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Stakeholders asks FG to enforce mandatory cancer screening

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The 2019 Walk Against Cancer in Lagos by Project Pink…at the weekend. PHOTO: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

The Federal Government has been charged to put up structures that will enforce mandatory cancer screening at the council level across the country to reduce mortality.

Stakeholders made the call at the weekend during the Project Pink Blue five-kilometre walk against cancer, which had over 1,000 participants trek from Radio Lagos Arena, Agindigbi, Ikeja through Obafemi Awolowo Way to Allen Roundabout to commemorate the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Acting Executive Director of Project Pink Blue, Emeka Nwagboso, lamented that very few attention had been given to cancers in Nigeria’s healthcare plan, pointing out that the situation required urgency to save both men and women from cancer deaths.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer is a critical public health problem in Nigeria, affecting both men and women of all ages, with an estimated 115,950 new cases and 70,327 cancer deaths recorded in 2018.

He said while the federal and state governments had enacted the cancer control plan with efforts to ensure quality treatment facilities for the disease in the country, it is important to save millions of lives from late detection by introducing mandatory state-wide cancer screenings in all the local government’s areas.

He said just as the federal government established mandatory Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome screenings in all healthcare facilities when patients visit, such should be applied to cancer to reduce the scourge.

“Several years ago, the government established mandatory HIV/AIDS screenings in all facilities, once anyone visits the healthcare centre, he or she immediately undergo HIV/AIDS screenings. If we apply the same method to cancer, we can reduce breast cancer deaths. As at today, over 80 percent of cancer cases presented to doctors are at late stages three and four.

“We are appealing to all state governments to save millions of lives from late detection o cancer by introducing mandatory state-wide breast cancer screenings in all the local governments across all the states in the country. Once this is introduced, we can reduce late detection of cancer by 50 percent,” Nwagboso said.

The Deputy Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly, Sanni Eshinlokun, who agreed that cancer is causing more harm in the country, said the eight assemblies has enacted a law on the awareness, screening and treatment of cancer, as the state government is working towards making it easier for the people to always check themselves.

He added that the law provides for screening at a very subsidised rate, while he commended the federal government’s plan to subsidise the cost of a cancer drug to enable patients to access quality care and avoid loss of lives from the disease.

Also speaking, the Director Medical, Training and Programmes, Ministry of Health, Funmi Shokunbi, who represented the Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi stressed that breast cancer is the leading cause of deaths in women globally and in Nigeria because of late detection and presentation.

She said an estimated 20, 000 cancer cases are detected in the state with the same number lost to the cold hands of death,

She, however, called for the move to adopt preventive medicine, which she said is the way out, if the country must address and reduce to the barest minimum, the incidences of cancer and mortality among its citizens.

“Preventive medicine will help in reducing the scourge of cancer. We all know that prevention is better than cure. If you don’t prevent something now, you are going to spend more money curing it and that is what this present administration of Sanwolu is really after. We want to bring healthcare to the door step of Lagosians. All our local governments and primary healthcare centres are been equipped to be able to screen the basic medical and common ailment among adult and children,” she added.

Also, the Commissioner for Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Dr.Lola Akande, said cancer is causing more deaths in the country, noting that if the healthcare facilities are in proper shape, the scourge would reduce.

She said the state government’s agenda is on health and education, with plans in place to revitalise the general hospitals and the primary healthcare centres to improve treatment of cancers in both young and old.

She advised Nigerians to ensure they exercise regularly and consume proper nutrition which is part of the preventive measures against cancer.

The event provided a platform where women received free breast and cervical cancer screening, while the men received free prostate cancer screenings, as doctors provided cancer awareness materials distributed in local languages to promote a preventive measure of care.


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