The national rollout of free Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in Kenya has been pushed to next year due to what an official termed high demand from countries across the globe.
The rollout had been scheduled for this year. But the head of the National Vaccines and Immunisation Programme Dr Collins Tabu said the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi) requested more time to manufacture the vaccine.
“The programme is in the final stages of preparation but we must ensure that we have enough vaccines so that we are not interrupted once we roll it out,” said Dr Tabu.
A researcher at the Kenya Medical Research Institute working on the vaccine said: “It is not that the company cannot meet the demand, it is about how fast they can produce the vaccine, since everybody now wants it.”
Two pilot projects conducted in Kitui County schools in four years demonstrated the acceptability and effectiveness of the vaccine.
Gavi helps Kenya procure its vaccines through a co-financing model.
Kenya pays 10 per cent of the total cost, about Ksh400 million ($4 million) every year, while Gavi pays the other 90 per cent, around Ksh3.97 billion ($39. 7 million).
The money is used to purchase the pentavalent vaccine for diphtheria, whooping cough, tetanus, hepatitis B and influenza, pneumococcal for pneumonia and rotavirus for diarrhoea and yellow fever.
Tanzania launched the drive in April, covering more than 600,000 girls aged 14 and below.
The government hopes that the campaign will reduce health costs. It costs $2,000 to treat a cervical cancer patient compared with about $15 to vaccinate a single girl.
Rwanda rolled out the HPV vaccine in 2011 for girls aged 12 to 15 in partnership with Merck & Company.
The first phase targeted girls in primary Grade Six. It achieved 95 per cent coverage.