Kirinyaga County has started a campaign to vaccinate 32,000 girls aged between 10-14 years against cervical cancer.
County Health Director, George Karoki, said the 100-day exercise would take place in primary schools, to reach many girls when the school opens in January.
He said due to the Covid-19 challenges, the cervical cancer drive was affected, with only 11 percent of the targeted age group having been vaccinated.
Karoki said through the aggressive Rapid Result Initiative (RRI) campaign, they hope to raise the number.
He said cervical cancer is one of the most common types with high mortality among women.
The Director called for cooperation from the public, noting “We have been going round and so far we are pleased that the exercise is picking up.”
Doctor Joan Paula Bor, from the Cancer Control Program, under the Ministry of Health, urged the County to invest a considerable amount of its resources in cancer screening and prevention drive.
Bor said the Country had achieved an overall 27 percent cervical vaccination against the 70 percent targeted mark.
To help the County address the disease, Bor presented an assortment of kits to help in the screening of various types of cancer.
She said the cancer burden in the country is still high and encouraged the public to heed the government’s clarion call, to go for early screening, to enable easier diagnosis and treatment.
Bor said over 42,000 cancer cases are registered annually and over 27,000 annual cancer-related deaths are recorded.
Gerald Macharia from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, hailed a global commitment that seeks to eliminate cervical cancer.
He said his organization was at the forefront towards fulfilling the goal, as over the past 18 months, it has been focusing on ways to collaborate with like-minded organizations towards reducing the spread of the disease.
Macharia urged parents not to shy away from seeking screening services for their teen daughters, as the disease is both preventable and treatable.
Kirinyaga Governor, Anne Waiguru, said the County is ranked among the top five counties with a high cancer prevalence.
Waiguru said one in 10 deaths is due to cancer, making it the second leading cause of premature death after cardiovascular disease.
The Governor said previously the vaccine was only available in private hospitals and was out of reach to the majority of Kenyans whereas it is crucial in preventing the disease.
“This is why I urged our parents to take the advantage of the free service the government is offering in matters vaccine, which is a mitigation measure against the disease.
Waiguru said now that the government has availed the vaccines to the population, cases of cervical cancer would be expected to reduce in the near future.
She said control of cervical cancer and other forms of cancer if early diagnosed can be treated and the public should be encouraged to undergo diagnostic checks in addition to having the right diet and exercising.
The leaders were speaking at Kerugoya during a cancer sensitization exercise, where close to 1,000 residents checked their Basic Metabolic Index (BMI), blood pressure, and diagnosed for cancer and other non-communicable diseases.
The Governor said the provision of cancer diagnostic and treatment centers in many of the county hospitals may eventually reduce overcrowding in Nairobi.
Waiguru said the County Government has facilitated cancer prevention by educating the farmers on the need to take precautions when administering pesticides and other chemicals during their farming activities.
By Irungu Mwangi