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Medic calls for increased uptake of HPV vaccine to tame cervical cancer

Parents have been asked to embrace the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to lower the prevalence of cervical cancer in the country.

The vaccine, which was rolled out in the country in October 2019, is effective against most HPV strains which account for more than 70 percent of cervical cancer cases.

Dr. Alfred Mayani, Oncologist at Aga Khan Hospital Kisumu, said the vaccine which is free, is available at public and private health facilities and asked parents with girls aged 9-14 years to get them vaccinated.

“Cervical cancer is a leading cause of death for women in the country but with this vaccine it is possible to reduce the chances of transmission,” he said.

Calling for regular screening to tame the killer disease, the medic revealed that the virus, which is sexually transmitted, can stay in the body for between 5-20 years before cervical cancer develops.

“The virus is sexually transmitted. Those who have unprotected sex or have multiple sexual partners are at high risk of getting infected,” he said.

Most of the HPV strains, he disclosed, are eliminated by the body’s immune response adding that massive vaccination was key in winning the war against cervical cancer.

Dr. Mayani said most of the women who visit health facilities in the country come when the disease has advanced, reducing the chances of survival.

“Globally this disease is reported in women aged between 40-60 years. However in Africa we have cases of women aged 30 years and above,” he said.

Speaking during a free breast and cervical cancer screening clinic held at the facility in Kisumu, Dr. Mayani asked women to go for regular screening at least once in three months to keep the disease at bay.

Over 200 women turned up for the free screening exercise which the hospital organized to bolster government efforts to fight the two cancer diseases.

“October is breast cancer awareness month. We are therefore joining efforts by the government and other organizations to create awareness and help close the gap,” he said.

Beneficiaries were examined for the two cancers and at the same time sensitized on self-examination procedures to identify the symptoms to look out for to keep the disease at bay.

Dr. Mayani further called for a lifestyle change and regular exercise to reduce the risks of getting breast cancer.

“Some of the habits like excessive consumption of alcohol and lack of exercise are behind the rising cases of breast cancer in the country,” he said.

He asked lactating mothers to breastfeed their children since it has been proven to reduce the risks of contracting the disease.

By Chris Mahandara

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