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NMA, Bagudu’s wife decry slow implementation of cancer control plan

By Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja), Victor Gbonegun (Lagos) and Michael Egbejule (Benin City)
05 February 2020   |   4:02 am
The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has decried low implementation of the Nigerian Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022 launched by the Federal Government two years ago.

Dr. Francis Faduyile

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The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has decried low implementation of the Nigerian Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022 launched by the Federal Government two years ago.

It urged the Federal Government to put in place effective cancer prevention policies that would ensure that all Nigerians are covered in order to have good cancer prevention outcomes in the country.

Speaking at the 2020 World Cancer Day (WCD) yesterday in Abuja, President of the association, Dr. Francis Faduyile, noted that little progress has been made mid-way into the time frame for implementation of the plan.

Faduyile said the association was worried that there was no clear national policy on Cancer, which he said, was critical to drive the various activities and actions need to prevent cancer and its attendant morbidities and mortalities.

“We have a National Cancer Control Plan, but the documents are gathering dusts in the Federal Ministry of Health. Government should implement the Cancer Control Plan to take care of early detection, diagnosis and treatment of cancers in the country.

“We need to look at how we can handle all preventable cancers. Breast, cervix, prostrate cancers are preventable, nobody should die of preventable cancers in the country.”

Also speaking at the event, wife of the Kebbi State Governor and Founder, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr. Zainab Bugudu, pointed out that Nigeria has one of the highest cancer burdens globally, adding that it was worrisome that the country has been unable to start proper implementation of the National Cancer Control Plan.

According to her, it is not because Nigeria lacks the funding to effectively implement the plan, but it was due to lack of political will to do it in a coordinated manner.

However, Nigeria will introduce Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccine into the National Immunisation Scheme next year, as about 72,000 persons die yearly from cancers in Nigeria with an estimated 102,000 new cases recorded annually.

HPV vaccine is used for prevention of cervical cancer, which is the fourth most common cancer in women, with an estimated 266,000 deaths and 528,000 new cases in 2012.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, who disclosed this in Abuja, said Nigeria has met the condition for the GAVI to introduce HPV Vaccine into the National Immunisation Scheme, adding that this will begin in 2021.

Besides, experts have advised women to be more aggressive in regular medical examination and improve healthy lifestyle.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death in Nigeria, but the experts who spoke at a breast cancer awareness programme organised by the Joyful Tears Initiative (JTI) for women groups in Lagos to mark this year’s WCD, stressed that early detection of the disease would increase chances of survival of affected persons.

Founder of JTI, Dr. Philomena Djebah, explained that the scourge was no longer a death sentence that defies solution, but rather women needed to ensure early detection of its symptoms to prevent its escalation.

Djebah, who was represented by Mrs. Yemisi Ojeh, cautioned that when breast cancer advances to stage three, it becomes a life threatening disease and more expensive to cure.

Meanwhile, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki admonished Nigerians to join hands with the government to fight cancer, noting that prevention remains a much-neglected weapon in the anti-cancer fight.

Obaseki said this on the sidelines of WCD set aside by the World Health Organisation (WHO) to draw global attention to the disease, review progress on treatment and management options with global stakeholders.