World Cancer Day (February 4 every year) is set aside by the United Nations/World Health Organisation (WHO) to raise awareness about cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. World Cancer Day is an opportunity for nations to collectively examine cancer control strategies and to identify winning formulas that will accelerate progress.
In line with the objective of this year’s world cancer day, it is our opinion that there is the need for everyone to examine the current cancer situation both globally and in our nation, Nigeria; and to determine how we can all take action!
Sadly, WHO latest data shows that worldwide, there were about 14 million new cases and 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2014, of which half died prematurely (aged 30-69 years).
About 70 per cent of these deaths occurred in developing nations like Nigeria. To put this into perspective, 1.1 million people died of Tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS killed 1.2 million people and malaria killed less than 500,000 people globally, during the same period. This means that cancer kills about thrice the number of people who die of tuberculosis, HIV and malaria combined.
According to the world body. Nigeria has had a significant increase in the incidence of deaths from the common cancers within four years. In 2008 breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily; by 2012 this had risen to 40 women daily.
In 2008 prostate cancer killed 14 Nigerian men daily; by 2012 this had risen to 26 men daily. In 2008 liver cancer killed 24 Nigerians daily; by 2012 this had risen to 32 daily. To address this problem, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP-Nigeria) has adopted the Big War against Cancer as its current focal cause.
The big war against cancer, is designed to establish the infrastructure for efficient and effective cancer prevention and treatment in Nigeria. The short-term goal of the big war is to acquire and deploy 37 Mobile Cancer Centres, one for each state and FCT Abuja.
A Mobile Cancer Centre is not the same as a Mobile Mammogram. Rather, it is a clinic on wheels with state of the art facilities for screening, follow-up and treatment including surgeries for pre-cancer and early cancer cases.
It also contains facilities for screening against ten cancer-related killer diseases, including hepatitis, diabetes, malaria, HIV/AIDs and others. Thus the Mobile Cancer Centres would tackle the double burden of disease, i.e. Communicable and Non-Communicable.
On the other hand, a Comprehensive Cancer Centre is a tertiary health institution that is focused exclusively on cancer care in all its departments. A Comprehensive Cancer Centre costs about $63 million, while a Mobile Cancer Centre costs about $600,000.
Nigeria has no Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC); therefore, most Nigerians have no access to basic cancer screening. Likewise, Nigeria has no single Comprehensive Cancer Centre (CCC).
Radiotherapy which is one of the essential facility needed to manage cases of cancer is unavailable in most tertiary hospitals in Nigeria. Only six public hospitals and one private hospital have such facilities in Nigeria. This contributes to the delay in treatment, increases waiting times for patients, resulting in progression in growth of cancer cells as well as spread to other organs.
We cannot achieve this unless we ACT! (Attack Cancer Together!). This year’s World Cancer Day calls on us to ACT! Let’s support the CECP-Nigeria through advocacy and donation towards the Mobile Cancer Centres. Together We can! You can! I can!
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