The Africa Cancer Foundation in collaboration with Matibabu Foundation and the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB) has launched a cervical cancer campaign in Kisumu County to create awareness and lower the prevalence of the killer disease in the area.
The campaign spearheaded by Kisumu Governor Prof. Anyang Nyong’o’s spouse Dorothy Nyong’o targets to scale up cervical cancer screening in a long-term effort to eliminate the disease in the area by the year 2030.
Dorothy Nyong’o who is also the patron of the Africa Cancer Foundation said the disease which is preventable and treatable when detected yet it continues to ravage families in the area.
She attributed this to the high prevalence of HIV/Aids in the area saying the two diseases were interrelated.
“Cervical cancer is mostly sexually transmitted. We should not be shy but talk openly about this as we encourage our women to go for screening,” she said.
Speaking during the launch of the campaign at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu, Nyong’o who was accompanied by her counterparts Margaret Lusaka (Bungoma), Emily Nyaribo (Nyamira) and Agnes Ochillo (Migori) said the campaign shall be scaled up to cover the LREB comprising 14 counties.
The campaign, which is the first of its kind in the region coincides with the global and Kenya National Cancer Awareness month which is marked in January.
Through the initiative, free screening services will be offered while medical personnel will benefit from 25,000 pairs of medical scrubs courtesy of Matibabu Foundation and Africa Cancer Foundation.
Nyong’o said the medical personnel will be engaged as ambassadors of the campaign to create awareness about the disease in efforts to scale up screening and treatment.
“Through these efforts our target is to make this region the first to eliminate cervical cancer in the country by the year 2030,” she said.
As a preventive measure, Nyong’o called for intensive administration of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to girls aged 10-14 years to lower the prevalence of the disease.
Kisumu County Executive Committee Member in charge of Medical Services Dr. Gregory Ganda decried the poor uptake of the HPV vaccine which he said was critical in the fight against the disease.
“It is unfortunate that despite the availability of this vaccine most of it just expires yet our girls are not vaccinated,” he said.
Efforts, he said must be geared towards ensuring 90 per cent of girls in the area get the vaccination to consolidate efforts to eradicate the disease.
“When diagnosed cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer as long as it is detected early and managed effectively,” he said.
Kisumu County, Dr Ganda said, was among the leading counties in terms of cervical cancer screening with about 70 per cent of women in the area screened.
About 30,000 women out of a total eligible population of 120,000, he said are screened in the area annually.
This, he said, has been made possible through the efforts of Community Health Volunteers and a digital health platform-Community Health Information System where all the screened women are registered.
“Through the digital platform we know everyone by village and name. Those who are screened are marked. We are getting very positive feedback through the system,” he said.
Cervical cancer ranks as the leading cause of female cancer deaths in Kenya since over 50% of the cases are diagnosed late.
By Jimmy Agoi and Adoyo Immaculate