Doctors tell off Catholics for rejecting cervical cancer vaccine

Association of Catholic doctors expressed concerns 10-year-old gils were too young to receive the vaccine

In Summary

• Cancer of the cervix kills 2,451 Kenyan women every year. Vaccine teaches the body to destroy HPV which causes 99.7 per cent of cervical cancer. 

• Catholic doctors concerned the vaccine will initiate sexual behaviours at an early age. 

Health CS Sicily Kariuki takes part in a blood donation drive at KICC last year on February 14
IMMUNISATION PROGRAMME: Health CS Sicily Kariuki takes part in a blood donation drive at KICC last year on February 14

Doctors have supported the plan by the Ministry of Health to vaccinate thousands of 10-year-old girls against cervical cancer.

The vaccination against the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will be rolled out across the country at Sh475 million next month.

The Kenya Medical Association dismissed concerns by Kenya Catholic Doctors Association who had claimed 10-year-old girls are too young to contract HPV, which is contracted through sexual intercourse and is the primary cause of 99.7 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.


Cancer of the cervix kills 2,451 Kenyan women every year, head of vaccines at the Ministry of Health Collins Tabu says.

"KMA finds the call by the KCDA for a boycott on the vaccine to be unfounded on evidence and utterly irresponsible as it denies our women a potentially life-saving intervention against cervical cancer and warts. KMA fully supports the Ministry of Health’s efforts in disease prevention and its comprehensive response to the statements made by KCDA," convenor of KMA’s reproductive health committee Boaz Otieno-Nyunya said.  

He said the World Health Organization recommends that all girls aged above 10 should get two doses of HPV vaccine given six to 12 months apart.

"The vaccine is most effective before a girl is exposed to the virus and is proved to be one of the most effective methods for preventing HPV," Nyunya said in a statement on Friday.

The vaccine teaches the body to destroy HPV.

He said for females who have not been vaccinated, the recommendation is that the same should be taken before 26 years.

"There is no research evidence that the vaccination is associated with early initiation of sexual activity or sexually risky behaviour," he added.


"The vaccine will be offered free of charge as part of the routine immunisation programme through an existing network of more than 9,000 public, private, faith-based and NGO health facilities to 10-year-old girls," Health CS Sicily Kariuki told the Star. 

"Prior to the introduction, the government will roll out intensive advocacy and community sensitisation and mobilisation efforts."

Cervical cancer is the most frequent cancer among women aged between 15 and 44 years.

"Kenya reports at least 4,802 cervical cancer cases every year, 2,451 (51 per cent) of whom end up dying," Tabu said.

Edited by R.Wamochie