As part of efforts to increase awareness, early detection, equitable access to diagnosis, timely, effective and affordable treatment of all forms of cancer, the NCWD recently commissioned a breast/cervical screening centre in Abuja. JOY YESUFU writes that if sustained, the feat will increase the survival rate of patients.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual international health campaign organised by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer.
Breast cancer awareness month is a yearly campaign that intend to educate people about the importance of early screening, test and more. This campaign starts on October 1 and ends on October 31 every year.
As part of activities to mark this year’s breast cancer awareness month, the National Centre for Women Development (NCWD) flagged off a Breast/Cervical Cancer Screening Centre.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony, director general of the centre, Mrs Mary Ekpere-Eta said NCWD in line with the strategic policy of this administration, have identified Goals-3 (Good health and wellbeing) Goals-5 (Gender equality). The good health and wellbeing of the nation is more than any other goal strategic for national development.
Ekpere-Eta said this year’s theme “I am and I will” is a call for personal commitment which represents the power of actions taken now to reduce the growing impact of cancer and other malignant diseases.
She said “Breast and Cervical cancers are the two most common female cancers in Nigeria as the statistics are alarming. The devastating impact is unbearable, families have been left in ruins and heartbroken due to the impact of these malignant disorders whose diagnosis portends grave danger for anyone.
According to her: “Nigeria has a population of about 180 million and breast cancer constitutes about 12 per cent of all new cancer cases and 25 per cent of all cancer in women. You can do the arithmetic to come to terms with the number of people affected by this scourge in Nigeria.
“It is a major cause of morbidity and mortality with incidence rates ranging from 36.3 to 50.2/100,000 live births. She added”.
Ekpere-Eta further explained that the screening exercise will run continuously to ensure that no woman is left behind and no life is lost to these diseases.
She revealed that the NCWD clinic will henceforth, be opened 24 hours to provide women with services ranging from pap smear to mammogram, breast ultrasound and the administration of HPV vaccines.
In her address, the first lady of Nigeria, Mrs. Aisha Buhari disclosed that her office has put all it takes together to establish state of the art cancer centers in Abuja and all the six geo -political zones in the country.
Aisha Buhari, who was represented by the senior special assistant to the president on administration, office of the first lady, Dr Hajo Sanni, stated this during the flag off of breast/cervical screening center as part of activities to mark year 2020 cancer awareness month organised by NCWD.
Mrs Buhari said she has carried out a number of outreach activities, screening exercise in hard to reach areas to detect and to help women to have access to such facilities as screening of cancer and most cases make referrals of where they can get treatment for those that have been detected to have cancer.
According to the first lady: “The office of the first lady of Nigeria is going to establish a state of the art cancer centre in Abuja. Already, we have the facilities and the structures in Kano and some other places possibly in the six geo -political zones. That will increase not only awareness about cancer but accessibility of facilities for women especially our rural women to be able to have the opportunity to be screened”.
Also speaking at the ceremony, the chairman, House committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Otunba Adewumi Onanuga , assured the DG of more funding for the centre to carry out awareness on issues affecting women.
“I am really glad that the centre is creating awareness for breast and cervical cancer. We can do more research to see how devastating the scourge is and am assuring the centre and the Women Affairs in general , that I am going to continue supporting all awareness campaigns and support the development of men and women in general” Onanuga said.
The United Nations country representative, Ms. Comfort Lamptey said one of the major ways cancer scourge can be addressed is by properly educating the people.
According to her: “When people are empowered with the right information, they can take positive decisions.
Lamptey, who was represented by Ms. Patience Ekeoba , called on the government, private sectors and in fact, all stakeholders to invest more in research and programmes that could bring cancer to an end.
The country Rep added that : “We want to see an end to cancer and one of the ways we can do that by Investing adequately. Women’s health remains critical and ensuring that women enjoy their right should be prioritised. The importance of women’s health cannot be under emphasised”.
According to reports , there are about 1.7 million new cases and 522 000 deaths from breast cancer each year. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide.
In low- and middle-income countries , the incidence has been rising steadily due to increased life expectancy, changing reproductive patterns and the adoption of western lifestyles.
Early diagnosis remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. When found early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, treatment may improve quality of life and delay disease progression, while supportive and palliative care should be readily available to relieve suffering for patients and their families.
Majority of women who die from breast cancer (324 ,000) live in low- and middle-income countries where most women are diagnosed in late stages due to a variety of factors. These factors include limited awareness on the part of the public and health care providers, and the lack of access to timely, affordable and effective diagnosis and treatment.
WHO promotes comprehensive breast cancer control programmes as part of national cancer control plans. The recommended early detection strategies for low- and middle-income countries are to increase awareness of early signs and symptoms among health care providers and the public, and to increase capacity for prompt diagnostic evaluation (including imaging, biopsy, and pathology services).
Breast screening with mammography screening is very costly and is feasible only in countries with good health infrastructure that can afford a long-term programme. The value of clinical breast examination is an important area of research, particularly in lower resource settings
High point of the ceremony was the screening of breast and cervix.