School going girls in Kiambu are set to benefit from an ongoing free Human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccination program aimed at taming cervical cancer.
The program which started on Thursday in Kiambu Sub County will be offered to girls aged 10-14 years in primary schools all over the county
The vaccine which was first launched in the country in 2019 by the Ministry of health is administered on the upper part of the arm in two doses, six months apart.
According to the County Director for public health Teresiah Kariuki, the ongoing program will ensure that girls have access to the vaccine, regardless of their socio-economic background, and hence empowered to take control of their own health.
“The vaccination will be provided primarily through schools but in order to reach those girls who are unable to attend school on the campaign day, the vaccination would be provided at our public health facilities for free. We will also be conducting community outreach through our community health volunteers (CHVs)” she said
“The Department is urging parents to ensure their daughters receive the HPV vaccine. The vaccine is safe, effective, and can prevent up to 90% of HPV related cancers thus parents are assured that their daughters are protected from this preventable infection,” said Kariuki
She added that if jabbed before girls become sexually active, the vaccine offers the best chance for long-term protection against HPV infection.
“Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) infection in the genital tract is the leading cause of anogenital carcinomas. Ultimately, by investing in the health of our girls, we are investing in the future of our communities and our nation as a whole,” added the county public health director
She added that Kiambu County was among the first counties to participate in the national HPV vaccine introduction in 2019 but the program was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“Kiambu County, which borders the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, has a population of 2.4 million people and we are targeting to vaccinate at list 500,000 girls before the end of this year,” she said.
Lucy Kiarie, a parent of a 12-year-old girl at Kiambu primary school feels lucky to have had her daughter receive her first HPV vaccine.
“We are lucky and fortunate to be among the first parents whose girls have received the safe and effective vaccine that can protect our girls from cervical cancer absolutely free,” she said
The Ministry of Health data shows nine women die of cervical cancer in Kenya every day, a situation that can be prevented through vaccination.
This happens just a day before the world marks International HPV Day which takes place on SaturdayMarch 4, 2023.
By Grace Naishoo