First Lady Margaret Kenyatta Thursday launched a cervical cancer advocacy guide developed to empower and sensitize communities on cervical cancer prevention.
The advocacy guide, the first of its kind, was formulated by the Ministry of Health and partners including the National Cancer Control Program, Stop Cervical Cancer Initiative, Office of the First Lady and Beyond Zero Initiative among others.
Speaking in Nairobi when she launched the guide at the close of a two-day high level advocacy cervical cancer workshop for county first ladies and other key stakeholders, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta called for concerted efforts to eliminate cervical cancer in Kenya by 2030.
The workshop with the theme, ‘I am and I will’, was geared towards equipping stakeholders with knowledge, skills and information to champion the fight against cervical cancer at the county level across the country. The theme is in line with the campaign theme for 2019 to 2021 World Cancer Day.
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“Our focus today is therefore appropriate – to urge partners to work together and identify effective ways to increase women voluntary participation in cervical cancer prevention programs,” the First Lady said.
The guide outlines key steps for advocacy to eliminate cervical cancer that include the use of evidence to frame the agenda, identification of instruments for community engagement and resource mobilization.
The guide is aligned to the National Cancer Control Strategy 2017-2022 which envisions a Kenyan population with low burden of cancer.
Renewing her commitment in the fight against cervical cancer, the First Lady emphasized the need to scale up prevention through vaccination and screening as the disease is treatable with 100 percent recovery if detected early.
“It is my hope that the meeting has identified bottlenecks and come up with effective and sustainable solutions to support the decentralized services for cervical cancer prevention, treatment and management,” the First Lady said.
Although cervical cancer is curable, records show that nine women die from cervical cancer daily in the country making the disease the leading cancer strain among Kenyan women.
“Kenya, which is currently ranked in the top 20 countries with the highest rates of cervical cancer, has joined the global call for the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030,” the First Lady pointed out.
Moved by stories of untold suffering, emotional trauma and increased financial burden caused by the disease that threatens women’s right to health, the First Lady expressed the need to address the issue of affordability on both screening and treatment especially in low-income communities where limited resources and infrastructure constrain access.
She supported the government’s call for coordinated multi-sectoral efforts to implement the 90-70-90 targets to achieve a reduction in mortality from cervical cancer.
“The aim is to have 90% of girls fully vaccinated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine, 70% of eligible women screened and 90% of women identified with pre-cancer or cancer treated appropriately,” she said.
The First Lady thanked national and county governments for setting up county chemotherapy centers and radiotherapy facilities in Mombasa, Nakuru, Garissa, Kisii and at Kenyatta University Referral Hospital saying, “All these efforts improve service delivery for cervical cancer screening, prevention and treatment”.
Health CAS Dr Rashid Aman and County First Lady Association Chairperson Mrs Nazi Kibwana commended the First Lady for her leading role in the promotion of health and wellbeing of children, girls and women.
In a communiqué read by Kwale County First Lady Christine Mvurya, the advocacy workshop resolved to consolidate their efforts in combating cervical cancer.
Other speakers included World Health Organisation representative Dr Rudi Eggers and Kisumu County First Lady Mrs Dorothy Nyong’o who spoke on behalf of the Kenya Network of Cancer Organizations and commended the Ministry of Health for launching the HPV vaccine, a campaign she termed as a “significant stride in cervical cancer prevention”.