• May 24, 2024
  • Last Update May 23, 2024 10:27 PM
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HPV vaccine outreach rolled out in Nakuru

HPV vaccine outreach rolled out in Nakuru

Nakuru,

Thursday May 9 2024,

KNA by Esther Mwangi

The Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination outreach exercise is underway in Nakuru to ensure that no girl contracts HPV – a virus that has been linked to cervical cancer.

County Chief Nursing Officer Wendy Tirop while emphasizing the importance of increasing the uptake of the vaccine which currently stands at 50 percent to over 80 percent said the numbers have been low due to myths and misconceptions about HPV.

Ms Tirop said they were targeting to vaccinate girls aged 10-14 years in all the 11 Sub-Counties but noted that health workers were grappling with the issue of consent since the target beneficiaries are under age.

Speaking during the data review meeting on the devolved unit’s immunization coverage, the Chief Nursing Officer added that parents should know that the vaccine is available for free in all public health facilities. Private hospitals however charge from Sh 20,000 a dose.

“We must redouble our efforts to increase the uptake of the HPV vaccine. Protecting our children from preventable diseases is paramount, and we have the power to make a difference,” she said, noting that the uptake was now at 50 percent.

HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that causes cervical cancer in women, a leading cause of cancer-related deaths, and the second most common cancer among women.

Ms Tirop said besides vaccination, the County was training and equipping health workers to effectively screen cervical cancer and offer pre-cancer treatment.

“It is now possible for women to get screened and treated at Sub-County hospitals. Further tests can be referred to the Nakuru Teaching and Referral Hospital where there is a histology lab,” the Chief Nursing Officer explained HPV vaccination was rolled out by the State in 2019, following a successful pilot programme in Kitui between 2013 and 2015.

Under the programme, the Ministry of Health targeted 3.2 million girls across the country by June 2023.

Ms Tirop pointed out that the HPV vaccine which comprises two injections taken six months apart should ideally be administered to girls and women before they become sexually active and exposed to HPV.

A three-dose schedule is offered to persons above 15 years.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally.

The global strategy to accelerate elimination of cervical cancer requires every country to have 90 percent of girls vaccinated with HPV vaccine by age of 15 and 70 percent of women screened by age of 35 and again by 45 years.

WHO recommends that comprehensive cervical cancer control should include primary prevention (Vaccination against HPV), secondary prevention (screening and treatment of precancerous lesions), tertiary prevention (diagnosis and treatment of invasive cervical cancer and palliative care.

The Chief Nursing Officer noted that HPV causes about 99 per cent of cervical cancer, reported at a tender age of 25 years.

“My conversation with parents and guardians is that it is irresponsible to fail to take our girls for the vaccine. Cervical cancer is not a disease to wish for anybody. It bleeds and kills, and needs not to happen,” she observed.

The Ministry of Health targeted to vaccinate 3.2 million girls across the country by June 2023, but so far, only 1.7 million girls, representing 53 percent have been vaccinated, with some 876,800 (27.4 percent) receiving the second jab.

Top counties in uptake of the first dose of the vaccine include Nyandarua, Nyeri, Bungoma, Nyamira, Kirinyaga, Siaya, Vihiga and Taita Taveta.

Counties of West Pokot, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana, Isiolo, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera have recorded the lowest uptake of the jab, with only 20 percent of targeted girls vaccinated.

To boost the uptake of the jab, Ms Tirop said the county government is fighting misinformation associated with the vaccine, through sensitization at the community level.

“Vaccination of our girls with the HPV vaccine is the only sure way of fighting cervical cancer. We have to protect the future generation by vaccinating our girls. It is worrying that the disease is killing people left, right and center, yet we are not utilizing the solution with us,” added the Chief Nursing Officer Pre-teen and pre-adolescents are the main targets in HPV vaccination, because they have the lowest sexual activity, unlike adults, who are most likely to have been exposed to any one of the HPV subtypes Ms Tirop affirmed that if vaccination is initiated early, the morbidity and the burden that comes with cervical cancer significantly reduce.

The expert further encouraged women to undertake regular screening, for earlier detection of cervical cancer.

Courtesy; KNA

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