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Catholic doctors oppose cervical cancer vaccination



The government is set to roll out mass vaccination of girls against cervical cancer in two weeks, even as doctors affiliated to the Catholic Church have contested the move citing a myriad of health complications.

The Ministry of Health will give 10-year-old girls two free doses of the vaccine against the cancer-causing human papilloma virus (HPV), six months apart, at about 9,000 public, private and faith-based facilities countrywide.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends vaccination of all girls and screening, at least once every year, for older women to reduce cancer risk, and the vaccine is most effective when administered between the ages of nine and 14.

There are about 100 types of HPV, of which at least 14 cause cancer. Two HPV types (16 and 18) cause 70 per cent of cervical cancers and cervical lesions.

The ministry met its partners Tuesday morning in preparation for the HPV national roll-out and to touch base on the local cancer landscape.

“The HPV vaccine is an extraordinary vaccine. It is the most effective means of preventing cervical cancer and is very safe. I am also a father of girls and all of them have received the vaccine. By vaccinating our girls against HPV we are preventing the disease for life. They will be able to grow, live up to their full potential and prosper,” said WHO Kenya Rep Dr Rudi Eggers, during the briefing.

MoH targets to reduce cases of cancer of the cervix — the second most common in Kenya after breast cancer, according to recent statistics released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

The disease claims about seven women in Kenya every day, about 3,000 per year, according to statistics from the MoH.

There are about 40,000 new cervical cancer cases annually. Globally, it is the fourth most frequent cancer in women.

“It is unfortunate that we lose seven women to cancer every day. This is preventable through vaccination. If you prevent HPV infection then you can prevent cervical cancer,” said the Ministry of Health Head of Immunisation, Dr Collins Tabu, during the stakeholders meeting held Tuesday.

On Tuesday, the Kenya Catholic Doctors Association (KCDA), in a 19-page document, questioned the decision to have 10-year-old girls vaccinated against HPV.

The doctors said their objection to the roll-out of the vaccine was backed by “studies” that indicated that the HPV vaccine was harmful to humans. “At 10 years, our children are not sexually active. They are not at risk of contracting HPV or other STDs. This applies also to other individuals who are not sexually active. It also includes those who are sexually active but faithful to their partners,” said the KCDA chairman, Dr Stephen Karanja, in the statement.

“It therefore makes neither logical nor scientific sense to expose children to a vaccine for a sexually transmitted disease that they are not at risk of contracting. These children must be protected by everyone including the government from promiscuity and helped to remain chaste.”

Top health experts, however, termed the claims “sensational and unfounded.” Kenyatta National Hospital’s (KNH) top gynaecologist and surgeon Dr Alfred Mokomba said past clinical researches showed that the vaccine was effective and safe for use on children.

He said the vaccine was a preventive measure and was cheaper than cancer treatment, and would bring down the local cancer burden.

“The work of a vaccine is to provide cushion before exposure and that is how they work better-because the body builds up defence against the virus. I have taken my daughters for the vaccination; it is safe. Those opposed have no case at all, they need to come up with better evidence to show the risks,” he said.

“What we know so far is that the vaccine provides 90 per cent defence against cervical cancer. Two researches conducted at the KNH showed that the HPV vaccine was effective in dealing with the HPV types 16 and 18 virus — the common causes of cervical cancer locally,” added Dr Mokomba.

According to the Catholic doctors, the virus, like sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), affected those “whose lifestyle involves irresponsible sexual behaviours”.

They, therefore, recommend that the government should ensure parents are empowered to “protect their children from contamination socially, mentally, spiritually, and physically from a world full of pornography.

“STDs are diseases of behaviour. When people of whatever age respect sexual discipline, chastity, abstinence and faithfulness in marriage, they are not at risk of contracting STDs and other diseases of perversity. These behaviours are the universal pillars of prevention of STDs, not vaccines,” said Dr Karanja. However, Mr David Makumi, the vice-chairman of Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance of Kenya and patron Oncology Nurses (Kenya), said the KCDA’s claims were not backed by facts and that they did not represent every Catholic’s position.

“We have a golden opportunity and if we can fix this then we will have done a great job. We owe it to our children,” said Mr Makumi. Rumours of potential harm from vaccines are not new and continue to spread even as scientists refute the claims. Locally, select groups affiliated to the Catholic Church have in the past opposed polio and tetanus vaccination drives. In all instances, the government has carried on with its plans. However, a number of people fail to take their children for vaccination for fear of the “risks” pointed out by the church — which is an authority — putting others in danger.

Mistrust in vaccines, for instance in America, has led to the worst Measles outbreak in 25 years.

As Kenya targets girls with the HPV vaccine, countries like Australia are also targeting boys to totally wipe-out the circulation of the cancer causing virus from its population.

Since HPV is transmitted sexually, vaccinating boys works in reducing its circulation of the virus linked to five per cent of cancers.

It is also a preventive measure for penile, anal and genital cancers and those of the head and neck.

Multiple studies in Australia indicate that the HPV vaccine has proven sufficient in providing protection. Australia’s Cervical Cancer screening programs ambitious plan includes wiping out cervical cancer by 2035.

Cost and access remains the greatest impediments towards early screening and treatment of cancer in Kenya to date.

Screening cost from about Sh3,000. Treatment too is costly with charges ranging Sh172,000 ($1,720) to Sh759,000 ($7,590) to treat cervical cancer without surgery in Kenya and Sh672,000 ($6,720) to Sh1.2 million ($12,500) if an operation is carried out, says the National Cancer Control Programme


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The untouchables: How city sewer barons make their millions



They are untouchables. Not even the daredevil matatu drivers or the suicidal boda boda operators can dare cross their path.

These are the foul-mouthed operators who haul the honey suckers. They are the masters of the road who turned kings after mastering politics of sewage, creating a niche sector from which they mint billions of shillings every year from desperate landlords and tenants.

Their operational base is Dagoretti Corner. This is a respectful distance away from their rich clients in Karen, Lavington and Lang’ata who cannot stomach the smelly trucks on the shoulders of their tree lined roads and cobbled walkways where dogs and cats have the right of way.

Contrary to common perception, these high-end residential estates do are not connected to the sewer line. Their affluent owners are supposed to have their septic tanks sucked up once they are full.

The same residences also rely on boreholes for water and have to call water bowsers to supply them with ‘clean’ water.

Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company acting Managing Director Nahashon Muguna explained that although 70 per cent of city residents are connected to sewer lines, the actual coverage was only 50 per cent.

Zones designated as low density such as Karen, Muthaiga and Lavington, Mr Muguna said, were not connected to the sewer because the owners have ample land where they are expected  to construct septic tanks.

“These areas are sparsely populated and the planners expected the residents there to have on-site septic tanks unlike in areas such as Umoja where a single plot has multiple dwelling units, necessitating a sewer line,” Mr Muguna added.

Disposal points

This explains why most exhausters and water tankers are congregated along Dagoretti area for easy access to the affluent neighbourhood to ferry clean water and empty the septic tanks.

At Dagoretti Corner, huddled in their corner on road reserve, the smelly honey suckers whose bodies are emblazoned with wisdom dripping with sarcasm compete for space and attention with their cousins, the bowsers who dispense “clean water.” At times, the water bowsers and exhausters are used interchangeably. There are an estimated 7,000 exhausters operating in Nairobi and neighbouring towns in this tightly controlled multi-billion shilling venture.

One operator, George Maina said he had different rates according to the regions.

“I charge Sh13,000 for an 18,000 litre truck in Karen. In Kileleshwa, the rate is Sh14,000. Other regions have different rates,” Maina added.

Although the treatment plant at Ruai is owned by the County Government of Nairobi, the disposal points where sewerage is emptied by exhausters have been clandestinely ‘rented’ to sewer barons who charge between Sh2,000 and Sh5,000 for every truckload emptied into the sewer line.

The cartels have zoned off the city into regions controlled by autonomous cartels and who demand a one-off membership fee of Sh100,000 for new entrants.

They have also introduced a universal fee of Sh10,000 chargeable to landlords for every truckload. This means the operator makes about Sh7,000 per trip.

It is not unusual to find some of the operators cutting corners and at times emptying raw sewerage in rivers and other public spaces at night to avoid paying disposal fee at Ruai to the cartels.

“If you are not careful, the same truck which emptied your septic tank will in a few hours bring your ‘clean water’ for cooking and drinking. Both the honey suckers and water vendors provide the same service. This is Nairobi for you,” an insider who operates from Donholm, explained.

It is a lucrative venture [Photo: Peterson Gitonga]

Kitengela slaughterhouse manager Joseph Matipei offered some insights into the kind of money the exhausters make. He said there was a time he was spending more than Sh1 million annually in emptying his septic tanks, as he is not connected to a sewer line.

“We used to exhaust two times a week because we had to get rid of 20,000 litres of waste. The exhausters would charge us Sh10,000 per trip, meaning we were spending Sh80,000 a month or Sh960,000 a year on exhausting alone,”  Matipei explained. Some apartment owners around the city who have no access to sewer lines pay about Sh430,000 per year as they have to empty their septic tanks once a week. The frequency increases when it rains owing to seepage of storm run-off water.

Against this background,some developers have devised illegal means of getting rid off their sewerage by pumping it into rivers or roads at night or illegally connecting to existing sewer lines within the city.

One insider, Kenneth Masai recounted how his friend split Sh28,000 with some supervisors after emptying four trucks of human waste from septic tanks in Jamhuri Show Ground into a corner of the same park.

“Recently, we had a three-day religious crusade at the showground. At the end of our crusade, the toilets had to be exhausted. I was shocked when a friend intimated that he had made four trips in a record two hours,” he explained.

Mr Masai’s friend, a truck driver, later confided that he had just dumped the four trucks at a corner of the park and pocketed Sh7,000 for each for the trips to Ruai disposal site that never were.

It costs Sh7,000 for a truck to evacuate 10,000 litres from a domestic septic tank in the city. This waste is supposed to be ferried to Ruai, but the honey suckers are known to cut corners.

In one of life’s ironies, the rity of the affluent and the powerful who live in posh areas of Karen and other estates such as Muthaiga are not connected to the city’s sewer line.

They are not also connected to the water pipeline and have to rely on bowsers for cooking and drinking water. Most of this water is drawn from boreholes which are sunk in the low-density estates.

Runda estate [Photo: Courtesy]

Isaac Kalua, a leading conservationist, said there are cabals who have been minting millions from the sewerage mess at the expense of people’s health.

“The exhausters are operated by cartels. They even have an organisation,” he said.

“Nairobi does not have a good working water and sewerage system. People have been allowed to sink boreholes everywhere including next to septic tanks. That is why we have so many water-borne diseases because people are consuming raw sewer in the name of water,” Mr Kalua warned.

Neglected sewerage

Water and sewerage, he said, ought to go as a package, but most policymakers had neglected sewerage because it was an unseen problem which could not earn one “political marks on a podium.”

Muguna said although his organisation was facing challenges from old and dilapidated sewerage infrastructure, this is compounded by gangs which deliberately block functional ones.

“There are some gangs who derive their livelihood from deliberately blocking sewer lines in their strongholds and preventing our technicians from repairing them,” Muguna explained.

Former Nairobi Water and Sewerage Company chairman Kabando wa Kabando said the rot is deep-rooted.

“During my time, I learnt that there were some technicians who had established a routine of deliberately blocking the sewer lines so that they could be paid once they came to repair,” he said.

“I remember there was once a members club whose sewer would start leaking every Friday, the club had to call Nairobi Water to have the leak fixed. It was strange that despite the repair the same problem would recur the next Friday,” he said.

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Doris Moi visits CS Tuju in hospital



The daughter of former President Daniel arap Moi, Doris Moi, over the weekend visited Cabinet Secretary Raphael Tuju at Karen Hospital.

Doris wished Tuju quick recovery on behalf of the Moi family. She was received by Tuju’s close family members.Tuju who is also Jubilee Party Secretary-General, was among 18 people involved in a road crash along the Nakuru-Nairobi Highway on February 12, 2020.

He was on his way to Kabarak for the burial of Mzee Moi when his Toyota Prado collided head-on with a 14-seater matatu at Magina.The CS sustained serious injuries and was airlifted to Nairobi for specialised treatment.Last week Jubilee Party in a statement on Tuju’s progress said he was responding well to treatment and making good progress in his recuperation.

“He continues to receive very good care under a team of specialists and nurses at the Karen Hospital,” said the party’s Communication Director Albert Memusi.Tuju’s doctors on Thursday also gave an assurance that he was in a stable condition.

This is probably not the first time Tuju has cheated death. On January 24, 2003, he was involved in a plane crash that killed one minister and two pilots.Tuju, then Tourism minister, was in the company of Narc politicians who had gone to Busia for a homecoming party to celebrate their three-weeks-old election win.

Those who were also onboard were Robinson Githae, Wanjiru Kihoro, George Khaniri, Martha Karua and Linah Jebii Kilimo among others.Moody Awori, a minister of Home Affairs at the time, had hosted them for a homecoming party at his Funyula home.After the party, they boarded a 24-seater Gulfstream at Busia Airstrip for Kisumu. The plane hit a power line on take-off and crashed.

Labour Minister Mohammed Khalif together with two pilots died with the others sustaining injuries.Ms Kihoro stayed in a coma after the accident for four years.

Tuju told KTN News’ Untold Story in 2017 that he cheated death after he found the late Ahmed Khalif on the seat that had been designated for him at the front of the plane.He, therefore, took one at the back of the ill-fated Gulfstream.

“Khalif had gone to the mosque and we were waiting for him. It took too long and it was getting hot. So I walked out to the pilot and asked why we were still there” Tuju told KTN.

“When Khalif arrived, he went and sat on my seat at the front. I couldn’t tell him to leave my seat. Unfortunately, when the plane crashed he (Khalif) hit his head on the barrier and died,” Tuju said, describing the event as a very traumatic experience.


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How Moi thwarted scheme to replace Lee Njiru



Former President Daniel arap Moi tried to intervene in a power struggle between his press secretary Lee Njiru and private secretary John Lokorio in his last days, it has now emerged.

Moi died on February 4 and was laid to rest at his Kabarak home last Wednesday.

According to insiders, only a few people knew about the intense power struggle to control Moi’s diary.

The running divisions that characterised the relationship between the two confidants was so intense that each wing used to release separate press statements on the health status of Moi.

And when he was admitted to Nairobi Hospital, the confusion of conflicting press statements intensified, confirming the deep division in the communication unit.

The two, who were constantly in touch with Moi during his 24-year reign and after his retirement in 2002, have for the past three years been embroiled in a power struggle that spilt over to the public domain last year.

The sour relationship became so acrimonious that at one time Mr Njiru accused Mr Lokorio of sending his two drivers with a spare key to “steal” his official car on July 5, 2017.

The car was later recovered by police and returned to Mr Njiru. The matter was the subject of discussion by the Nakuru County Security Committee that was chaired by the then County Commissioner Joshua Nkanatha on October 12, 2017.

After deliberations, the committee studied Mr Njiru’s documents and consulted the national government, which confirmed that he was in the office legally.

Mr Lokorio did not attend the meeting. But what is the bone of contention between the two?

Interestingly, the two are neighbours at Ngata Farm, where they own huge chunks of land, and both operate hotels in the former Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) land.

According to documents seen by the Sunday Nation, and which were filed in court, Mr Lokorio claims Mr Njiru retired on July 1, 2017 and should have vacated his position.

Mr Lokorio further claims that Mr Njiru was replaced by Mr Alex Kiprotich Chepkoit, who was recruited as deputy personal assistant in the Office of retired President Moi with effect from September 1, 2016.

Immediately after Mr Kiprotich’s appointment, Mr Lokorio sent a text message to Mr Njiru, saying: “I want to know when Alex Kiprotich can report on duty as your deputy. You are also aware that he has to work on His Excellency archives.”

Mr Njiru wrote to the Comptroller of State House and sought the extension of the contract for a further period of three years from July 1, 2017.

“My current appointment as personal assistant-cum-secretary in the Office of the Retired President expires on June 30, 2017. As per the terms of engagement, I wish to continue in the same position for a further period of three years from July 1, 2017,” wrote Mr Njiru.

His extension was approved by Moi. The then Comptroller of State House, Lawrence Lenayapa, conveyed the extension of Mr Njiru’s appointment as approved by the Public Service Commission via a letter dated May 3, 2017.

“I am pleased to convey to you the decision of the Public Service Commission vide letter Ref No PSC/SH/1/VII (24) dated May 3, 2017 that your appointment as a Personal Assistant-cum-Secretary, Job Group ‘S’ on local agreement terms of service in the Office of the First Retired President be renewed for a further period of three years with effect from July 1, 2017 up to and including June 20, 2020,” wrote Mr Lenayapa on June 5, 2017.

However, Mr Lokorio wrote back. The letter copied to Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua said: “The named officer (Njiru) is someone in his retirement and his services in an office of this nature are not in demand.”

He added: “If the government needs the energies of this officer, it is in a position to find him another posting, but definitely not this office.”

According to clause 8 of the Presidential Retirement Benefits Act, public officers should not be appointed or posted to serve on such staff except with the concurrence of the retired president.

Mr Njiru holds official documents showing that he is in the office legally.

But in a quick rejoinder, Mr Lokorio, seeking to exercise his powers, asked Mr Njiru on July 3, 2017 to proceed on retirement.

“The Public Service Commission has advised that I apply for your commutation of leave for cash in lieu of the contract,” wrote Mr Lokorio.

He further told Mr Njiru that he had applied for him 38 months outstanding leave.

The two top civil servants are subject to redeployment now that the Office of the First Retired President of Kenya, which was constitutional, has ceased to exist.

According to insiders at Kabarak, Mr Lokorio was resolute that Mr Njiru, who was considered an outsider in Moi’s private office among the administrative cadre staff, was to be replaced.

However, reliable sources told the Sunday Nation that when Moi learnt of Mr Lokorio’s schemes to replace Mr Njiru, he thwarted the move.

“Mzee Moi was not happy with Mr Lokorio’s underhand scheme and would not let go Mr Njiru, who was considered to be a foreigner in the clique surrounding former President Moi,” said a source.

The source added that even in his advanced age, Moi was cautious on who to work with and was not amused by hatred and tribal tendencies in his private office.

In a past interview, when asked how he managed to weather all these battles, Mr Njiru replied: “When you work under Moi for such a long time, you learn how to not to get ulcers. I do not get ulcers. I distribute them. In fact, I am the chief distributor.”

Mr Lokorio did not respond to our telephone calls seeking comment.

By Sunday Nation

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