As part of efforts to combat and enhance the quality of cancer data in the country, a non-governmental organisation, Medic Aid Cancer Foundation has proffered ways to improve cancer survivorship in Nigeria. TUNDE OGUNTOLA writes.
Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the world. Yet, many of these deaths can be avoided. Basically, between 30 to 50 per cent of cancers are preventable by healthy lifestyle choices such as avoidance of tobacco and public health measures like immunization against cancer causing infections.
According to World Health Organisation (WHO) cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and is responsible for an estimated 9.6 million deaths in 2018. Globally, about one in six deaths is due to cancer.
Data from WHO official website shows that approximately 70 per cent of deaths from cancer occur in low- and middle-income countries and around one third of deaths from cancer are due to the five leading behavioral and dietary risks: high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use and alcohol use.
In her welcome address at the opening ceremony of the second MedicAid Cancer Foundation Summit, in Abuja, Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu who is the founder of the foundation said though the nation have moved the needle in cancer treatment, she stressed that there is still a long way to go.
Speaking on the theme of the summit: ‘’Surveillance of Cancer Survival in Low Resource Settings’’ she said one of the ways to reduce the incidence of cancer in Nigeria is to make available ‘Free Cervical Cancer Vaccines (HPV vaccines) for young girls and possibly boys before they become active.
According to her, ‘’Our call for action is to humbly request the Ministry of Health and every other stakeholder in particular private sector to urgently make this a reality. The models of Vaccination can be easily adapted. Another vital next step we must strive to achieve is in sexually research and clinical trials. I urge our higher institutions of learning to research and network to ensure that there is an enabling environment for the brilliant scientists we possess.
‘’I would also like everyone present to ask his or herself this simple question-How can help? A lot. I urge you to do something no matter how small that will help us defeat the scourge of cancer join a walk against cancer, do your regular medical and cancer screening test, teach a friend about self breast examination.’’ said it was also important to harmonize cancer registries for effective data collection process in Nigerian hospitals.’’
Dr Bagudu who is the wife of Kebbi state Governor stressed the need for more cancer registries in the country. She reiterated that it was also important to harmonize cancer registries for effective data collection process in Nigerian hospitals.
‘’Recognizing the importance of having better statistics as a precursor to better cancer care, we initiated a series of summits on the process of ‘’cancer registration’’. Working with the Kebbi State Ministry of Health, with sponsorship from Saving One Million Lives program, relevant personnel have been trained and not one but two registries (one population and one hospital based) are now fully functional in Kebbi State. In addition we are in the final stages of developing a state cancer control plan. We do all of this because, by the year 2030 Cancer will be the leading cause of death, 60 to 70 per cent global deaths will occur in low medium income countries (LMIC) and most of this countries are in Africa,’’ she said.
In her presentation an Associate Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Dr Claudia Allemani called for treatment of people with cancer as well modification of lifestyle that trigger cancer.
She stressed that estimation of population base survival is important for cancer control strategy because it is an indicator of the overall health system in dealing with cancer.
A Professor of Surgery and Consultant Surgical Oncologist, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Dr. Ezeome Emmanuel defined cancer registration as the process of continuous and systematic collection of data on the occurrence, characteristics, and outcome of reportable cancers in a defined population with the purpose of helping to assess and control the impact of cancer within the community.
He added that a cancer registry is a unit (office, Institution) that continually and systematically collects and records all new cancer cases within a defined population, periodically analyses, interprets and reports such data, provides epidemiological data on cancer useful for research, cancer prevention, and planning and evaluation of health services.