Mrs Aisha Buhari, wife of Nigeria’s President, has underscored the need for greater awareness on cancer in African countries to promote early detection and treatment.
Mrs Buhari gave the advice at the “Walk Away Cancer’’ awareness campaign organised by the Medicaid Cancer Foundation, a Non-Governmental Organisation on Saturday in Abuja.
Mrs Buhari, who was represented at the event by Dr Hajo Sani, her Senior Special Assistant on Administration, commended the organizers of the 2019 edition of the campaign.
According to her, awareness about cancer in other parts of Africa has become important to promote its early detection and treatment in nations of the continent.
Buhari said: “We must walk cancer out of Nigeria and every woman, girls, including men must be informed about cancer and to know what they can do possibly to prevent it.
“We should go into competition with other African countries; we need to challenge them to engage this kind of massive involvement of men and women against cancer.
“We are sure of actually beating other African countries to such fights; we have already taken the steps and the awareness is most important, because prevention is better than cure.
“It will be great achievement for awareness to spread to other parts, because the main focus is to promote the well being of women and children through protection from cancer.
Speaking, Dr Zainab Bagudu, Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation, said for there to be effective control of cancer in the country, state governments must key into fights against cancer.
According to her, Nigeria is a big country, therefore, there is the need to start doing things at global level.
“It is important that each and every state starts to look at it at their level and to start by establishing a screening programme.
“The Federal Government has screening programme for almost everything, we have a plan but to implement it is where the problem lies.
“Four cancer screening centres belonging to government located in Abuja and in Lagos University Teaching Hospital are all concerted efforts; after all the ones we have broke down.
“If state governments can start screening at local governments by giving vaccination to women and girls, we can eliminate cancer, by giving school girls the vaccination,” Bagudu said.
She said although Nigeria was endowed with both human and natural resources to achieve meaningful development, political will was needed at the state levels.
Dr Femi Ogunremi, Managing Director of Monitor Healthcare Ltd, identified breast cancer as a major health challenge that affected women and girls in the country and needed to be detected and treated early.
Ogunremi told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that breast cancer could result to death if not treated.
“If eight to 10 patients were to be diagnosed of breast cancer and we follow them for the next five years, only one or none of them will be alive.
“If you go to developed countries and do same thing, you will realise that about nine or the whole ten will be alive, so there is lot of issues in the country.
“The issue is we do not screen our ladies, so a lot of our ladies present their cases at advance stage and when they present such, some come with ‘fungating’ cancer,” he said
The physician, however, called for measures to be put in place to find lasting solution to breast cancer and other terminal health challenges.