Agency tells off Catholic medics on HPV vaccine

Thursday June 27 2019

The Kenya Network of Cancer Organisations has dismissed the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association’s (KCDA) claims that the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine increases the chances of women getting cancer.

KCDA had voiced concerns over the forthcoming national HPV vaccination campaign set to kick off in schools next month. It targets girls aged 10 to 14, who will get two doses each in the arm.

The Ministry of Health says HPV, a sexually transmitted infection, is the primary cause of 99.7 per cent of all cervical cancer cases.

In a letter to Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang, Health PS Susan Mochache argues that vaccinating 10-year-old girls would significantly reduce the prevalence of cervical cancer.

“To reduce the burden due to cervical cancer in the country, the Ministry of Health plans to introduce the HPV vaccine into routine immunisation schedule 2019 targeting girls aged 10 years,” the letter reads.

Statistics released last year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer showed cervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer in Kenya.


Ms Mochache says the vaccination will be provided as part of routine immunisation at health facilities and will also be made available through school outreach programmes.

On Tuesday, KCDA claimed that girls in this age group, who are classified as a high-risk population, are too young to engage in sexual activity and cannot therefore contract HPV.

“HPV is a sexually transmitted infection and therefore children who are chaste and faithful adults are not at risk,” argues KCDA.

The doctors also argue that more than 90 percent of HPV infections are destroyed by the body’s natural immunity, making the mass vaccination exercise pointless.

They say chastity is the only proven safe and effective means of controlling cervical cancer.