- Ministry of Health targeted to vaccinate 3.2 million girls by June this yea but has managed only 1.7 million.
- Countries such as Australia have already moved to the single dose and extended the eligibility to women under 26 years.
Kenya will benefit from new funding to roll out the single-dose cervical cancer vaccine because evidence shows a single jab is as effective as two or three doses.
Countries such as Australia have already moved to the single dose and extended the eligibility to women under 26 years.
Gavi, which buys most vaccines for Kenya, is leading the new campaign to increase uptake.
The campaign is supported by the World Health Organization, Unicef, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, civil society and other partners.
Gavi said Ethiopia, Nigeria, Togo, Zambia, Bangladesh, Cambodia and Indonesia will also receive financing.
“Gavi will also continue to work with countries that have already introduced the vaccine to help improve coverage and other countries to plan for future introductions,” the vaccine alliance said in a statement.
Currently, Kenya requires girls to get two doses of the vaccine.
The jab was introduced in 2019 but Kenya has struggled to get girls to take two doses, given six months apart.
The Ministry of Health says it targeted to vaccinate 3.2 million girls by June this year.
However, only 1.7 million girls have been vaccinated and only 876,800 (27.4 per cent) had received the second jab in February this year.
Most vaccinations have taken place in Bungoma, Siaya, Vihiga, Nyamira, Taita Taveta, Kirinyaga, Nyandarua and Nyeri.
These counties have vaccinated at least 50 per cent of the targeted girls with a single dose.
The lowest vaccination levels are in Wajir, Garissa, Turkana, Isiolo, Mandera, West Pokot, Samburu and Marsabit counties, with only 20 per cent of targeted girls vaccinated.
“The HPV vaccine has amongst the highest impact of all Gavi-supported vaccines, saving millions of lives and helping to protect the future of adolescent girls across the world,” said Aurélia Nguyen, chief programme strategy officer at Gavi. “Yet that there are still millions of young girls who are at risk of contracting cervical cancer, a life-threatening yet vaccine-preventable disease that disproportionately kills women in lower- and middle-income countries."
The vaccine helps the body fight off infection by the Human papillomavirus (HPV), which causes more than 95 per cent of cervical cancer cases.
This virus is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. Only about 20 countries in Africa have introduced the vaccine.
“Achieving HPV vaccination rates is key to reducing the burden of cervical cancer. WHO is working with countries and partners to promote a multisectoral approach to address barriers to vaccination and increasing HPV vaccination coverage rates,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO regional director for Africa.
Gavi said they will not push any country to adopt and implement the new single-dose, but this decision will be left to the individual governments to make.
Alongside the single dose push, Gavi said it is seeking to reach 86 million adolescent girls with the HPV vaccine by 2025, in a separate action plan.
The plan will help countries introduce the HPV vaccine into routine immunisation schedules, introduce the jab to older girls for catch up, and make the jab part of the countries primary health care plan.
Despite efforts by countries and partners, global vaccination coverage rates for fully vaccinated girls remain low (12% in 2021), leaving millions of women and adolescent girls vulnerable to the virus, and at risk of developing the disease.
“WHO’s recent one-dose guidance for HPV vaccination makes us hopeful that we can reach more girls,” said Violaine Mitchell, d
“We're thrilled to partner with countries, Gavi and many other partners to improve access to HPV vaccines, overcome past supply challenges and pandemic-related disruptions to protect more girls and women from cervical cancer.”