CS Health announces Govt plans to roll out HPV vaccine

Nairobi (KENYA) October 16, 2019– The Government has announced plans to roll out the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), vaccine on Friday 18, 2019, in Mombasa County, targeting 800,000 girls who are currently 10 years old.

Making the announcement today at a media breakfast the Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki said the vaccine which will be offered Nationally alongside other Routine Infant Vaccines through an existing network of over 9,000 Public, Private, Faith Based and NGO health facilities FREE OF CHARGE, will in future be rolled out to all girls as they turn 10 years.

She noted that the Government  with the support of the Gavi Alliance and Partners, plans to introduce the HPV vaccine into the routine immunization schedule in 2019, at a cost of 800 Million Shillings for the year of introduction.

“The Cervical Cancer vaccine which is already in use in Routine Immunization Programs in more than 115 countries worldwide is safe and effective, has been evaluated and licensed for use in the country,” the CS assured.

Cancer of the Cervix, which forms the lower part of the uterus, is the leading cause of cancer related deaths among women in Kenya. “Nine women die from cervical Cancer in Kenya alone, every day,” the CS noted.

Globally, cancer remains a major public health concern. Last year, in 2018 alone, 18.1 million new cases were diagnosed with 9.6 million deaths reported. The leading cancers in incidence are lung, breast, prostate and colorectal cancer at 6.1%, while lung, colorectal, stomach and liver cancer lead in cancer-related deaths.

In Kenya, cancer is the 3rd leading cause of death after infectious and cardiovascular diseases. In 2018 alone, 49,000 new cancer cases were diagnosed and 33,000 deaths documented. The leading cancers in incidence in Kenya are breast, cervical and oesophageal.

Current approaches to Cervical Cancer prevention and control include Primary prevention to prevent infection with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), the primary cause of Cervical Cancer; Screening and Treatment of Precancerous and Cancerous Lesions.

“The burden due to Cervical Cancer has remained high but Cervical Cancer is now Preventable through Vaccination,” the CS said and urged  parents to take their children for the vaccination.

This year the country has in place more than 1.3 Million Doses of the HPV Vaccine against a target of 800,000 girls, for this year 2019.

“For maximum protection, all girls aged 10 years must receive 2 doses of the vaccine, 6 months apart,”

she said.

Vaccination cards will be given to those who receive the vaccine which will be implemented within the framework of achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC), as part of the Preventive and Promotive Healthcare component.

The acting Director General Dr John Masasabi Wekesa said the country has been able to reduce immunizable diseases by 70

per cent among them small pox, maternal neonatal tetanus among others.

“It’s our joint responsibility to help prevent cervical cancer,” Yaron Wolman, Unicef Chief of Health added.

Benda Kithaka , the civil society representative working with communities to eliminate cancer also emphasized that the HPV vaccine is safe and efficient and will be available to all 10 year old girls, “let’s not sit and watch, let’s save our girls,” she said.

Cervical cancer champion Ms Millicent Kagonga said “I would not like my 10-year-old daughter to go through the pain and ordeal I have experienced since I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.”