Otushabire Tibyangye & Agencies
South Africa, October 23, 2019
The Kenyan government to day has launched National Immunisation Programme (NIP) for the Human-Papillomavirus (HPV – the main cause of cervical cancer) joining other countries in the region.
“We are excited that Kenya now joins Rwanda, Uganda, Ethiopia and Tanzania, as East African countries with established HPV immunisation programs. MSD is committed to the elimination of preventable HPV related cancers and diseases and a national immunisation program is a critical step towards that. Well done to Kenya” said Dr Priya Agrawal – MD MSD South Africa and SSA Cluster.
Approximately 530 000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer around the world each year.  In Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), cervical cancer incidence rates are the highest in the world (the prevalence of HPV in women with normal cytology is at an average of 24% in SSA) and the disease is the most common cause of cancer death among women in the region. a,b
HPV16 and 18 are the most common genotypes in cervical cancer in SSA.3 Although HPV16 and 18 are associated with approximately 70% of cervical cancer cases , the various HPV genotypes also contribute to penile cancers, anal cancers, vulvar and vaginal cancers as well as genital warts (HPV6 and 11).3
The launch of the HPV program in Kenya is a watershed moment for the country.
Kenya has a population of 13.45 million women aged 15 years and older who are at risk of developing cervical cancer. Current estimates indicate that every year 5250 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 3286 die from the disease.  HPV ranks as the 2nd most frequent cancer among women in Kenya and the 1st most frequent cancer among women between 15 and 44 years of age5.