The First Lady of Ondo State, Arabirin Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has again reiterated the need for a national policy on cancer control in Nigeria.
Speaking at the International CSOs Cancer Conference (ICCC) 2017, an event by Civil Society for Cancer Eradication in Nigeria, which took place at the National Centre For Women Development, Abuja, Mrs. Akeredolu stressed the need for medical practitioners to adopt global best practices when it comes to the management and control of cancer.
According to her, many Nigerians are on their own when it comes to surviving cancer thus the need to push government to take the lead in cancer control through advocacy as obtainable in many other parts of the world where government through policy plays critical role in reducing cancer incidence and deaths.
At the conference themed: Bridging the Gap between medical practitioner and CSOs in the global fight against cancer, Mrs. Akeredolu used the opportunity to call for budget appropriation for cancer control at the federal and state level and as well the establishment of state owned comprehensive cancer centers stressing that though the incidence of cancer appears low but many Nigerians are bound to die more than those in western countries where cancer incidence is higher.
Her words: “Many of you must have had the opportunity to interact or network or even attend conferences of some of these international organization and you know we have a continuum on cancer control which starts with awareness, prevention, early detection, diagnosis, palliative care and so on.
“According to WHO, every year there are about 100,000 new cases of cancer in Nigeria and it is estimated that by year 2020 the incidence rates will be 100.9/100,000 for women and 90.7/100.000 for men, If you look at the incidence rate and compare those figures with what obtains in western world, you may say well the incidence is quite low but we are more likely to die from cancer than those in the western country where the incidence is higher if you look at our death rate”, she lamented while questioning why the pattern has not changed over the years since her winning her own battle against cancer 20 years ago.
“I have been in this fight for over 20 years now – what are we all doing? Why is it that the pattern hasn’t changed? These are some of the questions we should begin to ask ourselves. We have been told to be serious about cancer control. I don’t think we have been doing really well when it comes to the area of prevention – if we are honest with ourselves. And that could be linked to paucity of funds. Another thing is logistics- it might sound simple but how are we going to get to these rural area to create these awareness.” The climax of the event however was conferment of an Award of Excellence on Arabirin Akeredolu in recognition of her contributions in the fight against cancer.