Kenya’s health ministry is set to launch cervical cancer vaccine for the first time in the country targeting 800,000 girls, an official said.
Sicily Kariuki, cabinet secretary for the ministry of health said the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine will be offered nationally alongside other Routine Infant Vaccines through an existing network of over 9,000 public and private health facilities.
“The vaccine will be given free of charge to earmarked 800,000 girls who are currently 10 years old and subsequently to all girls as they turn 10 years old in future,” Kariuki told journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Kariuki revealed that the government has earmarked 800 million shillings (8 million U.S. dollars) to the introduction of the vaccine this year.
Already, she said, the country has in place more than 1.3 million doses of the HPV vaccine against a target of 800,000 girls, for the year 2019.
“For maximum protection, all girls aged 10 years must receive 2 doses of the vaccine, 6 months apart,” she said.
Kariuki assured Kenyans that the cervical cancer vaccine is safe and effective, and has been evaluated and licensed for use in the country.
She added that the vaccine has been used in routine immunization programs of more than 115 countries worldwide.
Fiona Atuhebwe, World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine officer for Africa regional office said that cervical cancer is treatable once one goes for early screening.
Atuhebwe commended Kenya for joining Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania by introducing the vaccine in the market.
She said that Kenya is now the 16th country in the continent that has introduced the vaccine as a way of saving lives of populations.
“We have to stop spreading unnecessary rumors about the vaccine since it has been used in many countries in the management of cervical cancer,” Atuhebwe noted.