By Samwel Doe Ouma @samweldoe
Kenya is among the top 20 countries in the world with the highest rates of cervical cancer in women of reproductive age.
A World Health Organization 2018 report, Globocan, shows that Kenya has the highest number of cancer-related deaths in East Africa, with cervical cancer accounting for 14,282 deaths.
While cervical cancer is easily detectable and curable in the early stages, most women are diagnosed late when treatment options are limited if not costly.
Currently, the estimated annual number of cervical cancer in Kenya cases is 5,250 while it causes 3,268 deaths every year. This cancer of the cervix is also preventable through vaccination, and Kenyan girls stand to benefit, since the government has plans for a May 2019 national rollout of vaccination against the human papillomavirus (HPV) which causes cervical cancer after a long term infection.
“We want Kenyans to stop the worrying about cervical cancer menace in Kenya in the long run,” says Dr. Anne Ng’ang’a, Head of the National Cancer Control Programme in the Ministry of Health, “for the first time, Kenya is marking the Cervical Cancer Awareness month from January 21- 27, with free cancer screening from January 21 – 25 at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Melchizedek Hospital and Texas Cancer Centre”.
Other centres that are offering free screening services within the national cervical cancer awareness week will include SOS Buru Buru and SOS Eldoret, as well as Tunza Clinics present in 42 Counties across the Country. This initiative is also supported by Ibis Styles Westlands. All women found to have suspicious lesions will be given free treatment to stop the progression to cervical cancer.
Dr. Ng’ang’a adds that the week will culminate with a Cervical Cancer Awareness walk, free to Kenyans to be held on Sunday January 27 at the Uhuru Park Gardens from 7am. There will also be free cancer screening and health education at the same venue.
The awareness week will be launched on 21st January at KNH Grounds near Clinic 66. With free screening, and dissemination of Behaviour Change Health Education Materials. There will be Cancer Experts and Cervical Cancer Survivors present to tell their stories.