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Letters

LETTERS: Keep hypocrisy out of reproductive health

vaccine
A medical worker administer a vaccine to a child. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

I would like to respond to an article published in the Business Daily on June 25, 2019, headlined ‘Catholics in standoff with Health ministry over cancer jab’.

The Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA) has once again demonstrated that they have a hidden agenda against vaccines.

The doctors reportedly objected to the vaccination of girls against Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) as a preventive measure against cancer of the cervix.

The vaccine targets girls aged nine-10 (or roughly those in Class Four and Five) and above.

Cancer of the cervix is the second commonest cancer in Kenyan women after breast cancer, and the fourth globally.

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HPV, a common sexually transmitted infection (STI), facilitates the development of cancer of the cervix, among others.

According to a report by the Information Centre on HPV and Cancer, about 5,250 new cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually in Kenya and about 3,286 such cases result in death every year.

The World Health Organisation recommends that all girls aged above 10 should get two doses of HPV vaccine given six and 12 months apart.

The vaccine is most effective when given before a girl is exposed to the virus and is one of the most effective methods for preventing HPV.

For those who have not been vaccinated the recommendation is that it takes place up to the age of 25-26 for all females.

There is no research evidence that the vaccination is associated with early initiation of sexual activity or risky sexual behaviour or perceptions about STIs as the KCDA wants to make parents believe.

So why are the Catholic doctors against the HPV vaccine?

“The only safe, affordable and effective method is abstinence,” that is what they are reported to have said. Sounds familiar?

The usual dogma and hypocrisy around sexual and reproductive health are disguised as evidence. It is never one way.

Are they condemning girls to an asexual life? When the girls eventually get married will the chastity continue to protect them?

In prevention science, you do not wait for the disease, and it is never too early to prevent. Isn’t prevention better than cure?

Saying that chastity is the only effective means of controlling cervical cancer is tantamount to prescribing one method for all women. Why limit our girls and women to one hierarchy-approved method?

Boaz Otieno-Nyunya, chairman, Kenya Medical Association’s Reproductive Health Standing Committee.

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