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FG moves to reduce cancer deaths

LAGOS— A new data from the National System of Cancer Registries has revealed that no fewer than 7,000 new cases of cancer were recorded across 11 Tertiary hospitals in the country, the Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu has disclosed.

To this end, the Federal Government has begun the procurement of two mobile cancer screening vans, 10 radiotherapy and nuclear medicine equipment to drastically reduce rising number of cancer related deaths as well as ensure proper screening and treatment even in the local communities.

Reeling out the measures already mapped out by the Federal Government in his keynote address during the opening ceremony of the 4th International Cancer week in Nigeria, with the theme; “Together it is Possible to Fight Cancer,” Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu declared that the fight against cancer in the country was holistic.

Chukwu, who was represented by the Director of Procurement in the Federal Ministry of Health, Engineer Samson Opaluwah, said the 7,000 new cases documented in the new data carried out in collaboration with the Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria, IHVN, corresponds with the average estimated 100,000 new cases of cancers reported in Nigeria annually.

From the data, 60 percent of cancers occur in women and 39.8 percent in men. Statistics from the Ministry of Health showed that breast cancer incidence has gone up at least four times over the decade and in 2010, it accounted for 40 per cent of women cancers, closely followed by cervical cancer 17.9 percent, lymphomas and ovarian cancers are next.

Chukwu explained that the two mobile screening vans, which will be fully equipped with cancer screening equipment, would be used to screen people in the local communities for breast, cervical and prostrate cancers.

He stressed that aside from early detection and prompt treatment intervention, the government has increased human capacity, through local and international training.

To further buttress holistic approach to tackling cancer deaths, he said: “Over eight resident doctors, nurses and pharmacists are in training in readiness for the 10 Radiotherapy and nuclear medicine equipment, which are being procured to increase the number of cancer treatment centres.”

“In partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, there are ongoing effort to upscale 10 more teaching hospitals to offer radiotherapy and nuclear medicine services in addition to the five existing ones,” he added.

Lamenting late presentation of cancer patients to the various treatment centres, the minister disclosed that palliative care services have been upgraded to care for them. “We have 29 doctors, 42 nurses, 12 social workers in palliative care so that these patients get the best quality of life at the terminal stage.”

Pointing out that key to palliative care was pain, Chukwu announced that the Federal ministry of health has increased the importation of Morphine for the production of liquid morphine at the federal manufacturing laboratory, yaba to increase access to pain control at an affordable cost.

“Dialogue is currently ongoing with cancer drug manufacturers as to develop strategies to bring down the cost of treating cancer”, he stated.

In her address, the National Coordinator, National cancer Control Programme, NCCP, Dr. Patience Osinubi, who spoke extensively on the theme of the conference, said it buttressed the relevance of the roles of all relevant stakeholders in the fight against cancer.

“The theme is a cry on call to all relevant stakeholders to put in their best in the struggle to down scale the alarming incidence of cancer globally which Nigeria is not spared,” she said.

Chioma Obinna


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