Nairobi County buys seven cervical cancer machines County buys seven cervical cancer machines

Nairobi County has bought seven machines worth Sh30 million to screen cervical cancer, increasing access to low-income women.

Bernard Muia, the health executive, said the machines will ensure more women in Nairobi are screened and treated early before the disease spreads.

About 4,802 Kenyan women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year with about 2,451 annual deaths, according to Health ministry estimates.

“Most women ignore early symptoms of cervical cancer like headaches. We urge more women to voluntarily get screened since the disease is treatable if detected early,” said Dr Muia.

The disease is one of the biggest killers of women of child-bearing age, but low awareness means screening levels are still low. Only 23 per cent of women in Nairobi have had cervical cancer screening, with a majority being rich or middle class, according to the latest Kenya Demographics and Health Survey (KDHS) 2014.

Availability of new cervical cancer machines in Mama Lucy, Mbagathi, Pumwani, Riruta and Mutuini hospitals will increase access to screening among the low-income groups, reducing deaths.

The new machines allow for more accurate tests, reducing misdiagnosis cases. Cervical cancer is caused by human papilloma virus (HPV), which lingers in men and women for months or even years. They transmit it to their partners through sexual contact.

According to World Health Organisation, about 39 per cent of women in the general population are estimated to harbour a cervical HPV infection at any given time.

East Africa has a very high HPV prevalence and the best bet for protection is to go for vaccination and using condoms.

The vaccine was launched in 2013 in Kitui on a pilot project targeting girls from the age of nine. About 16,000 girls were vaccinated, but a report on the success of the project is yet to be made public.


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Harrison Karemeri

Harry is an accountant, freelance writer and a biz-tech enthusiast. He is currently head of finance and managing editor at Nairobi Digest. Harry has watched John Q 13 times! Follow on twitter; @karemeryl