CERVICAL CANCER FIGHT

Kilifi targets 24,400 girls for HPV jab

So far, 9,840 girls have been vaccinated, official says myths threaten drive's success.

In Summary

• Nurse in charge says they are targeting 10-yrear-olds, presuming they are not yet sexually active. 

• She says cervical cancer is the second cause of cancer deaths in Kilifi after breast cancer. 

Kilifi medical services director David Mulewa vaccinates a girl when he launched the HPV vaccination drive at the Kilifi County Referral Hospital on November 5.
'DON'T BE MISINFORMED': Kilifi medical services director David Mulewa vaccinates a girl when he launched the HPV vaccination drive at the Kilifi County Referral Hospital on November 5.
Image: ELIAS YAA

Kilifi county aims to vaccinate 24,400 girls against HPV in a drive launched on Tuesday.

The jab will be given to girls aged 10 as a protective measure against cervical cancer.

Speaking when he launched the jab at the Kilifi County Referral Hospital, county medical services director David Mulewa said so far 9,840 girls have been vaccinated. 

The drive was launched nationally in Mombasa by President Uhuru Kenyatta three weeks ago.

Mulewa, however, noted that myths and misinformation about the vaccine may amake the target difficult to attain.

“There has been a lot of misinformation about this vaccine and why we are only giving it to 10-year-olds," he said.

One myth is that it encourages girls to have sex. Some people say that vaccines in general can cause sterility. Neither is true.

The vaccine is safe and has been in Kenya for years though it was only being given in private hospitals. "The jab costs over Sh6,000 in private hospitals but we are giving it for free," he said.

Mulewa added that most people are diagnosed with cancer at late stages and cannot afford bills for medication. 

“Cancer can be treated when detected early. This is a very expensive disease to treat and that’s why we have decided to administer this vaccine free of charge. Do not listen to the misinformation out there. This will save our girls from cancer."

Kilifi county nurse in charge of vaccination Clara Juaje said the vaccine will be given in two doses six months apart.

“After one gets the two doses she can stay safe from the HPV for the next 20 years. The virus is sexually transmitted and apart from cervical cancer, it can cause vaginal warts. We are targeting the 10-year-olds on the presumption that they are not yet sexually active and puberty is setting in,” she said. 

Though the hospital lacks data on cervical cancer, Juaje pointed out that cervical cancer is the second highest cause of cancer deaths in Kilifi after breast cancer.

The jab will be given in all 151 health facilities across the county.

Juaje said cultural and religious beliefs are the major challenge to the success of the drive.

Edited by R.Wamochie