Religious leaders in the country should welcome government’s efforts to fight cancer in women rather than coming out strongly to reject any move mooted to confront the disease, according to health experts.
Dr. Joel Musau of Migori Referral Hospital urged all faith groups to accept the use of HPV vaccines that the government launched recently towards preventing cervical cancer for girls aged 10 years and above.
Speaking during a health forum in Awendo town in Migori County on Monday morning, Dr. Musau criticised religious leaders in some parts of the country for opposing the use of the vaccine for girls by expressing some queer negative effects of the drug.
“It is surprising that a clique of faith-based groups are already opposing the use of HPV vaccine on our girls without giving convincing reasons for their claims that the drug has negative health effects on girls,” he said during the forum.
The one-day event brought together health experts, civil society, faith-based groups and various government and no-governmental agencies to discuss and offer the way forward for a number of health issues affecting the region.
He said cancer of all types had led to Kenyans spending a lot of resources in treatment leaving households in untold poverty after using all the wealth in their possession for treatment.
Therefore, the move by the State to come up with a vaccine that is proved as per the world standards should be commended instead of being smacked unreasonably by people who have no known expertise on maters health, said the medic.
Peter Otieno from the civil society group noted that it was time scientists also developed an effective vaccine to prevent prostate cancer in men.
He t old the clerics from the main stream churches and other faith-based groups to gauge and read the mood of Kenyans on cancer before making wild allegations lest history would judge them harshly.
“You cannot just wake up and start opposing anything of importance to the lives of Kenyans without giving concrete proofs over your claims for the sake of impressing upon your followers,” said Otieno.
In Migori, HPV vaccine was officially launched in Suna East Sub County and was administered to more than 1,000 girls in a campaign that will see close to a quarter million girls aged 10 and above vaccinated.
No group or church or mosque in the area has openly come up to oppose the vaccine but there have been undertones so far registered from some individual followers of some small churches doubting the motive of the use of the vaccine.
While a few in the area allegedly connected HPV to birth control measures, others have questioned the legality of the drug and termed it as a desperate move to try to address the cancer menace in the country.
By George Agimba