No fewer than 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer every year, the United Nation (UN) agencies said yesterday.
Also, more than 40 women and 26 men die every day from breast and prostrate cancer in Nigeria., with a with the survival rate put at 1:5.
But despite the rising cancer scourge, 28 African countries lack even one radiotherapy machine for cancer treatment, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The director-general of IAEA, Yukiya Amano, said millions of people continued to suffer from cancer in developing countries due to the lack of access to effective prevention, screening, early diagnosis and treatment.
Amano, at an event commemorating World Cancer Day in Abuja, called for continued efforts to ensure greater access to vital cancer services to prevent millions of people from cancer deaths annually.
He said: “Twenty-eight African countries do not have a single radiotherapy machine”, he said, but he did not identify the countries.
“The IAEA will continue to work hard to change that, and to improve facilities in other regions of the world where the need is also great. “We will strive to continuously improve the services we offer our Member States so they can provide better care – and hope – for their people.”
According to him, addressing the challenges confronting the developing world would remain a priority for the agency.
Globally, cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide, with approximately 14 million new cases and eight million cancer-related deaths annually.
There are concerns that the number of new cases could rise by about 70 per cent over the next 20 years.
This discovery increased global burden that cancer inflicts on people – both poor and rich.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) 2017 Report shows that cancer is responsible for one in six deaths globally.
According to the data, each year, 8.8 million people die from cancer, with about two-thirds occurring in developing countries.
The data shows that Nigeria has had a significant increase in deaths from common cancers within four years.
WHO said that in 2008 breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily, adding that by 2012 this figure rose to 40.
According to the organisation, prostate cancer killed 14 Nigerian men daily in 2008. It said that by 2012, the figure increased to 26.
“In 2008, liver cancer killed 24 Nigerians daily; by 2012 this had risen to 32. Over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer annually, with a dismal survival rate of 1:5,“ WHO stated.
According to WHO, one-third of cancers is preventable, another one-third curable and the last third can have good quality of life with appropriate care.
Nigerians Urged to engage in Physical Exercises
As Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the World Cancer Day, minister of health, Professor Isaac Adewole, has called on Nigerians to always engage in physical exercises to reduce the risk of suffering from cancer.
The minister, who stated this in his World Cancer Day message, said that any form of consistent physical activity will promote healthy living, reduce obesity and sedentary lifestyle, and other non-communicable diseases.
According to him, this year’s theme: “We can. I can”, is geared towards exploring individual and collective drive in reducing the global burden of cancer.
The campaign outlined actions that communities and individuals could take to save lives, achieve greater equity in cancer care and make fighting cancer a priority at the highest political level.
On the individual’s role in fighting cancer, Adewole said individuals could make healthy lifestyle choices by engaging in weekly physical activities for at least two and half hours for adults.
He also urged Nigerians to avoid tobacco smoking, eat healthy diet, limit alcohol intake and stay safe under the sun.
He noted that early detection makes it easier to treat and cure.
Spelling out roles expected from communities in the fight against cancer, the minister praised various organisations and professional bodies that have dedicated sporting programmes, encouraging them to sustain the tempo.
Adewole also said that communities should dispel myths that lead to stigma and discrimination against people living with cancer among them.
He called on governments to commit adequate resources to reduce cancer death and provide better quality of life for patients and survivors.
The minister, however, stated that the Federal Ministry of Health had made significant effort in awareness creation by developing jingles on cancer awareness in five Nigerian languages: English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and ‘Pidgin-English’.
These, Adewole said, were available for broadcast to the general public on Radio and social media.
“The Ministry is continuing her partnership with the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NUWRT) to broadcast the awareness jingles on another 1000 long distance buses while the office of National Coordinator for Cancer Programme, Federal Ministry of Health provided technical and material support,” he added
The minister further said that the commissioning of a new radiotherapy machine at the National Hospital, Abuja (NHA), recently, would provide for easy access to radiation treatment for Nigerians.
He disclosed that another new machine donated by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) was within the country and would be operational at NHA in the next few months.
According to him, the facility at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) should be offering full and uninterrupted service by June 2018.
He further stressed the commitment of the federal government to rolling out nationwide screening for breast and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer among men in 2018.
Despite these giant strides, the minister regretted that there remained some factors militating against these efforts to effectively combat the scourge of cancer in Nigeria.
The key barriers to treatment of cancer in Nigeria, the minister said, include poor awareness, poor health seeking behaviour, low level of non-governmental investments, low number of skilled health care personnel, and funding gaps, amongst others.
To surmount these barriers, Adewole said government was committed to the development of the Public Private Partnership strategies to address the funding gaps and manpower shortages.
He therefore called on interested stakeholders in the national and international arena to partner with Federal Ministry of Health so that more laudable achievements could be recorded in the management of cancer cases in the country.
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