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Declaration of emergency on cancer

The Federal Government recently rose to the challenge of the rising incidence of cancer in the country with the declaration of an emergency on the disease. Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, disclosed the plan for a fresh onslaught against the deadly condition at the 20th Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) and 3rd  International Breast Cancer Symposium, which held in Akure, the Ondo State capital. 

The minister, who was represented by the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital (OAUTH), Prof. Victor Adetiloye, explained that the existing National Cancer Control Plan had expired and a new one has been established.

The state of emergency and the roadmap for its execution came on the heels of the very high mortality rate of the disease in the country. The National Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022 has a five-year span focused on seven areas, among which are prevention, treatment, hospice, palliative care and data management.  The plan came up after extensive inter-sectoral collaboration which involved the government, academia, bilateral and multilateral organisations and civil society groups. Under the plan, the Federal Government will establish and equip dedicated cancer chemotherapy wards in nine of its tertiary health institutions.

Over 102,000 cancer cases and 72,000 deaths are recorded yearly in the country. Breast and cervical cancer are responsible for over 50 per cent of the cancer deaths. According to medical experts, cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of the body.  Possible signs and symptoms of the disease include a lump, abnormal bleeding, prolonged cough, unexplained weight loss and a change in bowel movements.

We commend the Federal Government for its fresh resolve to pay special attention to the battle against cancer. The Federal Government should, however, carry the state and local governments, as well as relevant non-governmental organisations (NGOs) along in this renewed war against cancer, for it succeed. Government should also create more awareness on the scourge and urge all Nigerians to go for cancer screening at least once a year.  This is important because early detection of the disease ensures a higher rate of survival. Public education is crucial to cancer prevention. Tobacco use is said to cause about 22 per cent of all cancer deaths, while another 10 per cent is traceable to obesity, poor diet, lack of physical activity and excessive drinking of alcohol.

We welcome the plan to establish cancer chemotherapy wards in nine designated medical centres across the country. The government should also endeavour to establish more diagnostic centres to encourage all Nigerians to go for screening, which will ensure early detection of the disease.  Since Nigeria is suffering an acute shortage of oncologists, more efforts should be directed towards the training of cancer specialists in our medical schools. Adequate funds should also be allocated to the cancer control plan to achieve its objectives.

It is commendable that Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has promised to partner BRECAN and others to establish a cancer centre which will provide essential services for the prevention and treatment of the disease in the state. Other state governments should do likewise.

We urge all Nigerians to discountenance the erroneous superstition that cancer is a form of spiritual attack. Those who have the disease should seek medical attention at designated cancer centres and hospitals. Many cancer survivors have proved that the disease is not a death sentence. Let all stakeholders work in concert with the government to reduce the incidence of the disease in Nigeria to the barest minimum.

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This post was syndicated from The Sun News. Click here to read the full text on the original website.

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