FIGHTING CERVICAL CANCER

Muslim medics give HPV vaccine thumps up

Announcement leaves Catholic doctors as the only one opposed to the campaign

In Summary

•They say rejecting the vaccine on hearsay and few cases of reaction is ill-advised

•Medics say medical reports and research from other countries have cleared vaccine

Health CS Sicily Kariuki during the launch of HPV vaccine at Ziwani Primary School in Mombasa
IMMUNISATION: Health CS Sicily Kariuki during the launch of HPV vaccine at Ziwani Primary School in Mombasa
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Muslim medics have supported the government’s initiative to administer for free the Human Papillomavirus vaccine to 10-year-old girls.

The Kenya Association of Muslim Medical Practitioners on Saturday said the vaccine will help reduce the cervical cancer burden in the country.

“Rejecting it on hearsay and a few cases of reaction is ill-advised. Someone needs to understand sometimes it could be a coincidental event where someone has an existing illness and right after vaccination it pops out,” the medics said in a statement.

 

The support leaves the Kenya Association of Catholic Doctors as the only ones opposed to the administration of the vaccine.

The KCDA in a 19-page document questioned the decision to have 10-year-old girls vaccinated against HPV.

The doctors said their objection to the roll out of the vaccine was backed by studies that indicated the HPV vaccine was harmful to humans.

 “At 10 years, our children are not sexually active. They are not at risk of contracting HPV or other STDs. This applies also to other individuals who are not sexually active,” KCDA chairman Dr Stephen Karanja said in the statement.

But Mombasa Catholic Archbishop Martin Kivuva while speaking during the national rollout of the vaccine said the church supports the vaccine as it had been tested and proved to be safe.

Muslim medics said medical reports and research from other countries had cleared the vaccine.

They said Kenyan women have been receiving the vaccine for more than 10 years now but at a high cost that kept many from accessing it.

 

The World Health Organisation recommends vaccination of all girls and screening at least once every year for older women to reduce cancer risk. WHO says the vaccine is most effective when administered between the ages of nine and 14.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 10 years of monitoring and research have shown the HPV vaccine to be safe.

The vaccine went through years of extensive safety testing before it was licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration.

FDA only licenses a vaccine if it is safe, effective and the benefits outweigh the risks.

Speaking during the launch at Ziwani Primary School in Mombasa two weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta told religious leaders that cancer does not discriminate according to religion.

At least 4,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year. The vaccination drive targets at least 800, 000 10-year-old girls.

They will get two jabs, the second one after six months.

The vaccine will be offered in public, private, faith-based and NGO health facilities at no charge.

Kenya becomes the 116th country to introduce the vaccine under its routine immunisation programme.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that nine women die daily in Kenya from cervical cancer. Globally, cancer remains a major public health concern.