On World Cancer Day, campaigner lauds Buhari, Wike, Ganduje for tackling disease
Firms collaborate to end scourge among women by 2030
A leading campaigner, Project PINK BLUE- Health & Psychological Trust Centre, has commended President Muhammadu Buhari for appointing a Director General for the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment.
Speaking yesterday in Abuja during activities to mark the 2023 World Cancer Day, which held on Saturday, February 4, its Executive Director (ED), Runcie Chidebe, observed that Nigerians are hopeful that the appointment would operationalise the institute, drive screening, ensure proper utilisation of funds, research and reduction in burden of the disease.
He noted that the ailment has become a public health issue in Nigeria, with an increasingly high mortality rate, adding that the International Agency for Research on Cancer reported that the most populous black nation recorded 124,815 cases and 78,899 deaths in 2020.
According to him, it is also estimated that more than 70 per cent of related fatalities globally occur in low and middle-income countries like Nigeria and most patients in travel abroad to seek better treatment and care.
He added, however, that with these new interventions, medical tourism would reduce, with more patients assessing care locally.
Represented by the Breast Cancer Survivor and Programme Coordinator, Gloria Okwu, the ED also commended efforts by Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike of River State and his Kano counterpart, Abdullahi Ganduje, to broaden advocacy, vowing that his organisation will continue to hold government accountable.
His words: “Currently, a greater percentage of all cancer services in Nigeria are funded at the tertiary level through the Federal Government.
Very little or none is done by the state governments except the wives of governors. However, Governors Wike and Ganduje of Rivers and Kano states took up cancer care and made commendable strides. With N26 billion, the Rivers State government built and completed the Dr. Peter Odili Cancer, Cardiovascular, Diagnostics and Treatment Centre to serve over 30 million people in the South-South region of Nigeria. The centre is equipped with three theatres, radiotherapy and brachytherapy machines, a laboratory unit and a nuclear medicine unit. In Kano, the government built a new cancer treatment centre named Prof. Hafsat Ganduje Cancer Centre. The facility is equipped with radiotherapy machines, chemotherapy suites and laboratory machines. This centre will care for and provide cancer treatment support to over 50 million Nigerians, who live in North West geopolitical zone. We hope that other governors would emulate these commendable steps.”
IN a related development, QIAGEN, a German biotech firm that developed the first HPV DNA test, in collaboration with Turner Wright Biotech Company, at the weekend, gathered women from all walks of life for a free screening in Ikeja, Lagos.
The HPV DNA test that has proven to reduce mortality from cervical cancer and cost–effective, was deployed.
The event also examined inhibitive socio-economic factors like cultural and gender norms, income and education levels, age, gender, ethnicity biases, disabilities and lifestyle.
In their presentation, women were warned that the ailment has no symptoms until it is full blown, stating: “At that level, women begin to experience symptoms such as long monthly periods, pain during sex, waist pain, pungent vaginal discharge, constant toilet disease, herpes, genital watts among others.”
It was also established that HPV 16 or 18 that causes cervical cancer is transmitted to women from men, explaining that the men do not show symptoms and women should avoid multiple sex partners or embrace protection.
In his message, Chief Executive of Turner Wright Biosciences Limited, commercial partner for QIAGEN, Dr. Tunde Lawal, said their hope is to align with the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) mission of eliminating the disease as a public concern by 2030 and achieve the global agency’s 90-70-90 target, which is that 90 per cent of girls need to be vaccinated and prevented from contracting HPV, while 70 per cent of sexually active women must be encouraged to screen, especially for those living with HIV and finally 90 per cent of those that test positive should be followed up, treated and managed well.
He said: “QIAGEN takes it upon itself to see that because the disease is preventable, no woman should die from it. This is the idea behind the screening.
“Though HPV also affects men, but the emphasis from QIAGEN is on women because the incidence is higher in women.”
Demonstration on how the kit could be used was carried out because, according to Lawal, “some people do not allow such tests to be carried out on them due to their religious beliefs.”
He continued: “ You cannot ask some women to open their legs for such tests, that is why we are teaching them how to use the kit so that if you fall within that category, you will just take the sample by yourself.”
Lawal warned: “The kit is disposable, it cannot be used by another person, and it is able to detect the most difficult stereotype of this virus that causes the disease. So, if you are positive for any of the types that causes the ailment, you can start treatment before legions begin to form. If anyone is positive today, you will be told the real situation and what you can do and for those that are negative, they can take vaccine.”