The fact that Cancer is responsible for more deaths than HIV-AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis put together has again been brought to the fore by the First Lady of Ondo State and the founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), Mrs. Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu.
Speaking at the 20th Anniversary and 3rd International Symposium on Breast Cancer held recently at the International Events Centre, Akure, Mrs. Akeredolu observed that in Nigeria, the number of people who daily die from cancer is daunting thus the need to lobby government to implement appropriate policies.
According to her, Nigerians no longer need to play passive role in their approach to finding a lasting solution to the scourge.
Her words: “20 years ago, I successfully defeated breast cancer. I am one that is ready to tell anyone who cares to listen that this disease we fear so much can in fact be defeated if we do the right thing at the right time. Today, the battle is ongoing and I am proud of the giant strides of BRECAN.
“Cancer is responsible for more deaths than HIV-AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis put together. We can no longer be passive in our approach; we must intensify our efforts – lobby the government t to implement appropriate policies and provide treatment for those who cannot afford treatment”, she stated while noting that one of the aim of the programme is to provide a platform for local and international experts to discuss recent trends in all aspects of breast cancer.
In his remarks, the Ondo State governor, Arakunrin Oluwarotimi Akeredolu restated his commitment towards building a Cancer Centre while recounting the story behind the scene about the birth of BRECAN.
Gov. Akeredolu who urged men to stay faithful to their commitments in marriage further called for supports for BRECAN activities.
“I will do what I can for BRECAN.
To have a cancer centre is not of my making; if you read the recommendation from our Medical team in the state; they recommended that Ondo State must build a Cancer Centre. We have accepted their recommendation and I will ensure that we build a Cancer Centre in Ondo State,” Gov. Akeredolu added.
Earlier, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was represented by Victor Adebayo Adetiloye in his welcome address affirmed that the symposium was indeed apt as available statistics on breast cancer in Nigeria is scary.
“On cancer related death, I met a gory data of 72,000 deaths and in Nigeria, every year; we have about 2000 cases annually. Breast Cancer and Cervical Cancer are responsible for about 50.2 percent death in Nigeria.
This symposium is very apt at this time as we have developed a new cancer control plan to provide a clear road map,” he added while noting that the new plan will reduce incidence of cancer in Nigeria.
Speaking on a lecture titled: “Attitudes Towards Breast Cancer in Nigeria: The Way Forward, Prof. Friday Okonofua, the Vice Chancellor, University of Medical Sciences, Ondo noted that Nigeria currently has one of the highest prevalence rate of breast cancer in the developing world.
Prof. Okonofua who highlighted the three stages in prevention and management of breast cancer which include primary prevention, early detection, treatment and rehabilitation of affected women, further observed that getting women to embrace these prevention methods remains the major challenge facing the control of the disease in Nigeria.
While commending BRECAN for championing the cause of breast prevention and treatment in Nigeria, Prof. Okonofua made case for more advocacy and collaborative efforts from all stakeholders noting that improved supply of qualitative breast cancer prevention and treatment services is critical in the effort to reducing the burden of breast cancer and deaths in Nigeria.
Dr. Kristen Hopkins in her lecture titled: ‘Creating Sustainable Access To Radiotherapy in Low- and Middle Income Countries’ affirmed the importance of Radiotherapy noting that Nigeria has a sorry tale when it comes to public access to radiotherapy.
The event also had in attendance, the First Lady of Kwara and Kebbi state respectively, the wife of the Deputy Governor of Ondo State, Chief Mrs. Ajewole Ajayi, the Secretary to the State Government, Hon. Ifedayo Abegunde and his wife, Jumoke Abegunde, royal fathers, women groups and association among others.