The government has announced plans to roll out the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) virus vaccine that causes Cervical Cancer by next month.
The vaccine that targets approximately 800,000, 10 year old girls will be administered in two doses six months apart free of charge across the country, Dr. Colin’s Tabu, Head of Vaccines & Immunization programme said today during a Cervical cancer prevention media roundtable organized by Women4Cancer.
“This vaccine is safe and effective and will be rolled out in all the 9,000 health facilities run by the government, faith based facilities alongside others through the routine immunization schedule after the launch,” he said.
In Kenya 9 women die every day from cervical cancer including those in the age group of 20s.
“HPV vaccine has potential to cut the burden of cervical cancer by 70%,” said Dr. Tabu.
So far 115 countries have incorporated HPV vaccine within their routine immunization programs and it has proven that the vaccine works, he said.
Rwanda was among the first countries to launch the vaccine in its routine immunization programme in 2006 and now it is talking of elimination.
The HPV vaccine pilot vaccination in Kenya was carried between 2013 and 2015 in Kitui covering 22,500 children of ages 9 to 11 resulting to 95 percent evidence based success.
Dr. Mary Nyangasi, Head of Cancer Control Programme said that cervical cancer is 100 preventable through vaccination, screening and treatment .
“Cervical cancer is the leading cause of death in women in Kenya. Only 16.4 per cent go for screening. People need to present early to prevent cervical cancer,” she advised.
The target of the 10 year olds, Dr. Nyangasi explained will not only protect them from developing cervical cancer later in life but it is also good since they will be getting the vaccine before they are exposed to the HPV virus.
Early screening of women of reproductive age can help identify the cancer, Dr. Nyangasi said noting that the number of cervical cancer patients has increased from 4,800 in 2012 to now 5250 in 2018 because of lack of screening.
Benda Kithaka from the Civil Society and Cervical Cancer prevention said 30 organization have come together to mobilize women to go for screening.
“Elimination of cancer requires us to take advantage of the global call for HPV by integrating , strengthening and opening dialogue with all stakeholders”, she added.
The highest rates of cervical cancer in Africa standing at about 40 to 100,000 are found in East African Countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) strategy towards elimination of Cancer by 2030 envisions 90 percent of girls to be fully vaccinated with the HPV vaccine by 15 years of age, 70 percent of women are screened with a high-precision test at 35 and 45 years of age; and 90% percent of women identified with cervical disease receive treatment and care.
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