The cancer that is preventable by a vaccine


04 May 2015 | by
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The cancer that is preventable by a vaccine

Did you know that cancer of the cervix can be prevented through a vaccine? Cervical cancer in Kenya is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women and the most common cancer found in women between 15 and 44 years of age. Yet this is the same cancer that can be prevented through vaccine.

As the age of first sex debut becomes lower and lower and children as young as 10 having sex, the vaccine can help reduce the chances of getting cervical cancer.

The primary cause of cervical pre-cancer lesions and cancer is persistent or chronic infection with one or more types of the high risk human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually acquired infection and is most often acquired in adolescence and young adults upon sexual debut.

Immunisation to protect against HPV, together with screening and treatment, is the best strategy to rapidly reduce the burden of cervical cancer.

Kenya became the first country to protect girls against cervical cancer with GAVI-supported HPV vaccines.  The first round of the HPV demonstration project took place at the Central Primary School in Kitui County in Eastern Kenya. If the HPV vaccine demonstration programme is successful there, it can be expanded to other regions across Kenya.

This vaccination programme will help Kenya achieve its goal to prevent unnecessary deaths from cervical cancer in Kenya and support an entire generation of women to live healthy, and productive lives.

 “For more than 100 years, scientists at MSD has been discovering and developing vaccines to help prevent certain diseases in children, adolescents and adults,” said Farouk Shamas Jiwa, Director, Public Policy and Corporate Responsibility in Africa, MSD. “We have an important responsibility to improve access to vaccines and quality healthcare worldwide. We do this by working in partnership with others -- governments, donors, patient organizations, healthcare professionals, NGOs, multilateral organizations and others in the private sector -- to lend our expertise and knowledge. Our commitment is steadfast as we work to increase access to vaccines now and in the future.”

 An estimated 266,000 women die every year from cervical cancer. Over 85% of those deaths occur among women in developing countries. Without changes in prevention and control, cervical cancer deaths are forecast to rise to 416,000 by 2035; and virtually all of those deaths will be in developing countries

Cervical cancer is the most common of all cancers in Africa and thus continues to be a significant threat that demands urgent attention in the African Region. In 2012, over half a million new cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed worldwide with 1 in 5 being in sub-Saharan Africa 

The primary cause of cervical pre-cancerous lesions and cancer is persistent or chronic infection with one or more types of the high risk human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is the most common sexually acquired infection and is most often acquired in adolescence and young adults upon sexual debut

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates HPV infections cause approximately 68 000 cases of cervical cancer each year in Africa. However, these figures most likely represent a conservative estimate due to the health challenges in health information systems and cancer registries in the region.

Cervical cancer is a preventable disease.  Immunisation, together with screening and treatment, is the best strategy to rapidly reduce the burden of cervical cancer.

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