•The HPV vaccine is offered free of charge in all health facilities since its inclusion in the routine immunisation schedule in 2019
•Former President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the vaccination campaign in October 2019 with a target to reach 800,000 girls
Health CS Susan Wafula has called on parents to take their girls aged 10 – 14 years for HPV vaccination.
This comes as the government moves in an effort to lower the burden of cervical cancer in the country.
The HPV vaccine is offered free of charge in all health facilities since its inclusion in the routine immunisation schedule in 2019.
Former President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the vaccination campaign in October 2019 with a target to reach 800,000 girls with two doses of the vaccine six months apart.
Similarly, all women aged 25 to 49 years have been encouraged to go for cervical cancer screening in the nearest health facility.
“Currently, we are working towards vaccination of 90 per cent of girls from 10-14 years of age, screening of 70 per cent of women between 35 and 49 years of age and providing treatment and care for 90 per cent of women identified with cervical cancer,” the CS said.
According to the CS, Kenya is on track towards attaining the World Health Organisation's 90-70-90 (an increase of HPV vaccination to 90%, twice-lifetime cervical screening to 70%, and treatment of pre-invasive lesions and invasive cancer to 90%) targets by 2030.
“These are the 90:70:90 global targets that must be achieved by 2030 to put Kenya on the path for elimination of cervical cancer,” the CS said.
Each county has been given specific targets to achieve annually so that the country can achieve the 90:70:90 targets.
The CS appealed to all private healthcare providers to join the ministry in this cause and to consider removing barriers such as high costs for cervical cancer screening so that more women can take up the services.
The Ministry of Health will continue working with counties, and all partners to eliminate cervical cancer in Kenya, said the CS.
More than three years later, the optimal number of girls reached remains a concern.
The low uptake has been attributed to the Covid disruptions that led to the closure of schools yet most of the targeted population are school-going girls.
The vaccine against the cancer-causing HPV targets 10-year-old girls and is administered in two doses six months apart, to about 9,000 public, private and faith-based facilities countrywide.
Cervical cancer ranks fourth globally in both incidence and cancer-related mortality among women.
In Kenya, cancer of the cervix is the second most common kind of cancer in women aged 15 to 44 years after breast cancer.