Cabinet Secretary for Health Sicily Kariuki during the launch of Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer (Edward Kiplimo)

The government will spend Sh800 million in the roll out of cancer vaccine which will kick off on Friday.

The vaccine against cervical cancer targets 800,000 school going girls across the country.

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki has confirmed that already 1.3 million doses of the injectable vaccine in stock, which is more than enough for the first round of the vaccination.

Speaking at the last briefing ahead of the roll out in Mombasa tomorrow Friday, CS Kariuki allayed fears of adverse side effects saying a trial phase done in Kitui county in 2013 reported no harm.

“We did not record any adverse side effects. It is therefore correct to assume that as we scale up we will not report any side effects. However, in normal vaccination, the tissues area of the injection of usually swell,” said the CS.

She said in the first phase of the vaccination, that will run through this financial year, the ministry has allocated Sh800 million.

The roll out makes Kenya the 16th country in Africa and 97th globally to introduce the vaccine which aims to protect girls against the Human Papillomavirus(HPV) a major cause of 99 per cent of cervical cancer cases.

Tanzania introduced the vaccine in 2018, Rwanda in 2011 and Uganda in 2008.

The girls, said the CS, will receive two doses of the vaccine that will be given six months apart. She said the girls will be vaccinated across the 9,000 health facilities including the faith based hospitals and also through school outreaches programmes that will be pre-planned by the ministry and counties.

“Counties will be giving us facilities where we will hold vaccines and help us in the outreaches,” she said.

The roll out, which was supposed to have happened in September was hampered by qualms from the church, specifically the catholic doctors who claimed the vaccine has adverse side effects and it was immoral to give it to 10-year-old girls as they are too young to be sexually active.

However, studies as carried out in the US have shown that the vaccines efficacy increases when given to girls yet to be sexually active as the HPV virus is sexually transmitted and by then, they would have built a strong immunity.

CS Kariuki said the nine women who die daily in the country as a result of cervical cancer warrants action.

“Even one death that is preventable is one too many. Culture, and beliefs whether traditional or religious are keeping Kenyans from getting treatment, and they end up dead,” she said.

The 2018 Globocan data has cervical as the second deadly cancer in the country after breast. There were 5,250 cases of cervical cancer in 2018 and 3,286 deaths.

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