Kenya Takes Vital Step Against Cervical Cancer

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With President Uhuru Kenyatta leading the way, Kenya joins an increasing number of African countries taking a vital step against a common cause of death among women – in the country and the region – by introducing the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine against cervical cancer into its routine immunization schedule.

“Please, let us not fight science – let us respond to questions, discuss and agree because we all want a right and prosperous future for our children,” the Kenyan President said at the launch of the cervical cancer prevention and control strategy in a Mombasa schoolyard, where around 45 girls received the HPV vaccine.

Cervical cancer is one of the few cancers that is almost totally preventable. The HPV vaccine is effective against most HPV strains, which account for more than 70% of cervical cancer cases.

The HPV vaccine against cervical cancer is effective if administered before exposure to the virus, which is transmitted sexually. Kenya is targeting 800 000 girls aged 10 years throughout the country after basing the strategy on lessons learned from the experience of a Kitui County demonstration project a few years ago. The vaccine is administered on the upper part of the arm in two doses, six months apart.

“In Kenya, nine women die every day from cervical cancer,” explained Honourable Sicily Kariuki, Cabinet Secretary for Health, during today’s launch festivity in Mombasa, adding that women in their twenties are now vulnerable. “This sad situation must be reversed. The HPV vaccine has potential to cut the burden of cervical cancer by 70%.”

Kenya becomes the twelfth country in East and Southern Africa to integrate the HPV vaccine into its routine immunization schedule

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