Wednesday January 22, 2020

HPV Vaccinations may Reduce Cervical Cancer Rate in Kenya

Kenya's HPV Vaccinations Raise Hope of Less Cervical Cancer

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Cervical Cancer
A study of hospital records shows three-quarters of young women chose not to get the HPV vaccine which can prevent cervical cancer. VOA

By Rael Ombuor

The World Health Organization says East Africa has the highest rate of cervical cancer in the world.  In October, Kenya launched a mass vaccination of girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer.  The vaccine is being welcomed by HPV patients, who hope their children will be protected better than they were.

Thirty-year-old Jacinta Agunja tested positive in 2016 for one of the human papillomaviruses (HPV) that leads to cervical cancer.

After two years of intensive and expensive treatment, she was free of HPV and did not get cancer.

Agunja hopes Kenya’s mass vaccination of girls, launched in October, will prevent her 10-year-old daughter from also getting the virus.

“That vaccine, I need it to help my daughter and other women who are not sexually active now,” said Agunja. “When they become sexually active, they will be already protected so that they cannot go through what I went through, because women in informal settlement(s) cannot afford that much.”

Kenya is offering the free HPV vaccine as part of the county’s routine immunization schedule to 10-year-old girls.

Doctors say the vaccine program is a major milestone in the fight against cervical cancer in East Africa, which has the highest rate in the world.

Dr. Catherine Nyongesa is the director of the Texas Cancer Center, a private hospital started in 2010 to offer specialized cancer treatment.

Cervical Cancer
In October, Kenya launched a mass vaccination of girls against the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can lead to cervical cancer. Pixabay

“Parents are encouraged to take their children for vaccination but, all the same, vaccination does not give one the guarantee that you will not get the cancer,” said Nyongesa. “But studies in developed countries have shown that actually the rate of cervical cancer goes down with planned, proper immunization.”

At least seven women die every day in Kenya from cervical cancer, according to the Ministry of Health.

The ministry says the HPV vaccine could cut the rate of cervical cancer by up to 70 percent.

Cicily Kariuki is Kenya’s Cabinet secretary for health.

“We have managed to distribute the vaccine to 47 counties, in all of the public facilities,” said Kariuki. “We have covered an upward of up to 300,000 girls to date.  The target continues because our target is 800,000 girls.”

At least 115 countries have made the HPV vaccine routine, including some in East Africa.

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Rwanda first introduced the vaccine in 2006, followed by Uganda in 2015 and Tanzania in 2018.

While Kenya normally leads development in the region, its efforts in preventing cervical cancer are seen by many – including Agunja – as better late than never. (VOA)

Next Story

Full Vaccination of Children Reduces the Risk of Hospitalisation: Study

Full flu vaccination cuts child hospitalisations in half

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Hospitalisation
Researchers have found that fully vaccinated children reduced the risk of hospitalisation for complications associated with influenza by 54 per cent. Pixabay

According to a latest health news researchers have found that fully vaccinated children reduced the risk of hospitalisation for complications associated with influenza by 54 per cent.

The study, published in the journal Clinical Infectious Disease, tested the effectiveness of childhood vaccination against influenza and risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications.

In Israel, as in the US, government guidelines recommend that children aged 8 or younger who have never been vaccinated, or who have only had one dose of flu vaccine previously, should receive two doses of vaccine.

“Children vaccinated according to government guidelines are much better protected from influenza than those who only receive one vaccine, said study lead author Hannah Segaloff from University of Michigan in the US.

According to the researchers, over half of our study population had underlying conditions that may put them at high risk for severe influenza-related complications, so preventing influenza in this group is critically important.

Hospitalisation
Young children who aren’t vaccinated are at high risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications. Pixabay

“Our results also showed that the vaccine was effective in three different seasons with different circulating viruses, reinforcing the importance of getting an influenza vaccine every year no matter what virus is circulating,” Hannah said.

The retrospective study used data from Clalit Health Services, the largest health fund in Israel, to review the vaccination data of 3,746 hospitalisations of children 6 months to 8 years old at six hospitals in Israel. They were tested for influenza over three winter seasons 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18.

Not only do the findings reveal that the flu vaccine reduced hospitalizations associated with the flu by 54 per cent, but they show that giving two vaccine doses to children up to age 8 who have never been vaccinated or only received one dose previously is more effective than administering one dose, in accordance with the Israel Ministry of Health recommendations.

“Young children are at high risk of hospitalisation due to influenza complications. Children with underlying illnesses such as asthma and heart disease have an even greater risk of getting the complications. It is important to prevent influenza infections in these populations,” said study co-author Mark Katz, from The Clalit Research Institute in Israel.

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The findings support health organisations’ recommendations to vaccinate children against influenza every year, preferably before the onset of winter or early childhood. Children under 5 are defined as having a high risk of influenza complications, the researchers said. (IANS)