Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, on Tuesday in Abuja has expressed concern over the increasing rate of breast cancer in the country and urged women to go for regular screening.
Ehanire made the call at the opening of the 2020 edition of the Annual International Cancer Week where he said reports from the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries showed that breast cancer in Nigeria increased significantly between 1960 and 2016.
“Between 1960 and 1969 only 13.7 per cent out of 100,000 women in Nigeria had breast cancer; the figure rose to 24.7 per cent women out of 100,000 women between 1990 and 1999.
“An average of 26.1 per cent in 100,000 women in the country had breast cancer between 2000 and 2016.
“This gory statistics has shown that cancer has become an emerging disease in Nigeria and it is of serious public health concern.
“Breast cancer has remained the commonest cancer in Nigeria for a long time now and the incidence is still on the increase.
“Therefore, well thought out steps must be taken to forestall the unacceptable growing trend,’’ the minister said.
“This development made the Federal Ministry of Health to take the leadership role and harness all available materials and human resources within its domain to disrupt this pattern from gaining grounds or becoming established.
“I am particularly glad that as part of activities marking the 2020 edition of the International Cancer Week is the launch of a very important document – “The National Training Manual, Data tools and Job Aids for Secondary Prevention of Cervical Cancer in Nigeria.’’
The minister said the resource material was very crucial for effective implementation of the National Strategic Plan for the Control and Prevention of Cancer of the Cervix (2017-2021).
He commended the Clinton Health Access Initiative, a non-governmental organisation and the WHO for supporting Nigeria to develop the valuable tools.
“It is my hope that all the stakeholders will find them useful as we all work together to actualise the goal of elimination of cervical cancer by the year 2030 in line with the WHO declaration, the minister added.
Ehanire also said that the ministry had approved the development of a ChemoSafe and Hospice and Palliative Care Policies in line with the National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022).
“It is also worthy of note that the American Cancer Society has offered to support the Ministry of Health in implementing some key areas of the ChemoSafe Policy.
“This is a commendable gesture and I hereby call on all other partners to express their areas of interests and reach out to support government in the fight against cancers,’’ he said.
In her address, Mrs Pauline Tallen, Minister of Women Affairs said the ministry would continue to provide awareness for women and girls and work with all relevant bodies in the fight against cancers.
Tallen, represented by Mrs Funke Oladipo, Acting Director, Women Affairs, in the ministry, said it was committed to improving the social health status of women, girls and children.
“We will continue to partner with relevant bodies in the development of programmes and projects aimed at enhancing the health status of women,’’ she said.
The minister thanked the Ministry of Health for its partnership in hosting of a two-day Breast Cancer Screening as part of activities to commemorate the 2020 cancer week.
Also speaking, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr Abdulaziz Abdullahi said cancers resulted in more than 70,000 deaths in Nigeria annually.
He said this was further compounded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health system.
“Cancer invariably contributed to the number of mortalities at the wake of the pandemic because the patients are more at risk of being seriously ill or dying if they develop COVID-19 infection.
“That means they are extremely vulnerable and therefore, a lot needs to be done to prevent them from getting the infection,’’ he said.
Abdullahi said activities planned for the cancer week were expected to spur and galvanise action by all stakeholders towards the prevention of cancer and COVID-19 infection among cancer patients in Nigeria.
“Prevention, early detection of COVID-19 infection and prompt intervention is critical for the survival of cancer patients in the COVID-19 era and beyond,’’ he stressed.
The permanent secretary urged all stakeholders to live a more physically active life, control their body weight mass and eat healthy among other healthy lifestyles to avoid cancer
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that highlights of the event was the launch of the National Training Manual for Cervical Cancer Prevention in Nigeria and the launch of the Costed-Strategic Plan for the Elimination of Cervical Cancer in Nigeria.
The theme of the 2020 edition of the International Cancer Week is “Cancer in Nigeria in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond’’. (NAN)