The Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics (FIND) and the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology are exploring a research collaboration to address the cervical cancer burden in the country.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer among women globally, with an estimated 604,000 new cases and 342,000 deaths in 2020. About 90% of the new cases and deaths worldwide in 2020 occurred in low- and middle-income countries.
WHO further posits that a large majority of cervical cancer (more than 95%) is due to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. Vaccination against HPV and screening and treatment of pre-cancer lesions has been proven to be a cost-effective way to prevent cervical cancer. Cervical cancer can be cured if diagnosed at an early stage and treated promptly.
Only a quarter of health facilities in Kenya offered screening in 2018, despite the fact that Kenya has been implementing a national screening programme for more than a decade.
It is against this backdrop that FIND is discussing possibilities of further research collaboration with the university to address some of the prevailing issues and barriers that have led to the tenacity of the disease.
During a meeting on October 6, 2022, at the university, attended by the FIND Kenya Executive Director, Prof. Joseph Mathu Ndung’u and a multidisciplinary team drawn from the College of Health Sciences (COHES), discussions centered on barriers to HPV vaccination, barriers to treatment, and cervical cancer screening and treatment situation analysis.
The meeting was also attended by a delegation from Youth Alive Kenya, an organization focused on creating an inclusive and prosperous society where young people live fulfilled lives through advocacy, empowerment and mentorship.
Deliberations at the meeting emphasized the need to embrace a multi-stakeholder approach to tackling matters cervical cancer, addressing the misinformation and stigma associated with the disease, particularly HPV vaccination.