Nigeria records increase in cancer deaths, 20% survival rate
• Citizens spend $200m yearly on treatment abroad
• Mrs. Ambode urges fight against disease
TODAY is World Cancer Day! Celebrated on February 4 every year, it is a day set aside by the United Nations (UN)/World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness about cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.But recent studies suggest that cancer cases and deaths are on the rise.
According to WHO, Nigeria has had a significant increase in the incidence of deaths from the common cancers within four years. In 2008 breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily; by 2012 this had risen to 40 women daily. In 2008, prostate cancer killed 14 Nigerian men daily; by 2012, this had risen to 26 men daily. In 2008, liver cancer killed 24 Nigerians daily; by 2012, this had risen to 32 daily.
National Co-ordinator of the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP-Nigeria), Dr. Abia Nzelu, told The Guardian: “Over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer yearly, and about 80,000 die (10 deaths every hour) with a dismal survival rate of 1:5. The situation is worse for some specific cancers. For example, the survival rate for certain blood cancers in Nigeria is 1:20 whilst at the Tata Cancer Centre in the Indian City of Mumbai, survivorship is 99:100 for the same condition. This poor survival rate in Nigeria is mainly due to inadequate infrastructure for cancer care and lack of well-organised system of prevention.”
Nzelu said Nigerians spend $200 million yearly on cancer treatment abroad. “Incidentally, $200 million is the approximate amount needed to establish three Comprehensive Cancer Centres or to acquire 300 Mobile Cancer Centres. Unfortunately, the outcome for Nigerians who embark on cancer-related medical tourism is often poor, because of late detection. Cancer constitutes a preventable major drain on our human and financial resources. Nigeria has thus lost so many precious, gifted and talented people from all works of life,” she said.
Meanwhile, as Nigeria joins the world to commemorate World Cancer Day today, wife of the Lagos State governor, Bolanle Ambode, has called on Nigerians to unite in the fight against the cancer scourge.
Ambode, who spoke at the 2016 World Cancer Day organised by Sebeccly Cancer Care yesterday, said although cancer had been a threat to the world claiming more than eight million lives yearly, all hope was not lost if everyone could unite to fight the scourge.
“Let’s unite to fight cancer; you can, I can,” she said.as she endorsed on a pink wall, as a mark of solidarity to the course championed by the cancer support group.
But speaking on the activities of Sebeccly Cancer Care, Omojole Adetoro, a board member, said the organisation was established to raise awareness on cancer, assist cancer patients for treatment and to empower survivors to live a happy and stable life after completing treatment.