Nearly 50% of cervical cancer patients may die by 2035– Minister
Says cancer, renal, cardiac problems main NCDs killing Nigerians
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, on Sunday said if governments of low-income nations fail to improve commitments to tackling the menace of cervical cancer, the disease may kill nearly five out of 10 of its sufferers in the next 18 years.
He named cancer, renal (kidney) and cardiac problems as main non-communicable diseases killing Nigerians.
He said bearing in mind the threats constituted by the diseases to the wellbeing of the people of the country at the onset of his assumption of office, less than two years ago, he outlined various programmes to help tackle the ailments, some of which he listed as: inclusion of cancer prevention in the budget of his ministry, and free screening for women in the country on cervical cancer.
Speaking at the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting, on the side-lines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva, Adewole called on global leaders to designate cervical cancer as a major public health challenge, and to intensify efforts to attract investment in vaccines access and treatment.
He explained that through his ministry, the Federal Government of Nigeria had offered free screenings to about 200,000 women across the country, adding that his mission this year was to screen women free of charge in the nation for cervical cancer.
In a statement made available to Nigeria Health Online by the Director of Media and Public Relations in his ministry, Mrs Boade Akinola, Adewole disclosed that government was equipping seven centres for cancer prevention and management which he designated as “centres of excellence”.
He expressed hope that each of the centres would handle surgical oncology, radiotherapy and medical oncology.
Quoting the International Agency for Research on Cancer Report, the minister noted that nine out of 10 (87%) cervical cancer deaths occur in less developed regions of the world.
“If we do nothing, your excellencies, the burden of cervical cancer will increase, by 2035, an increase of 72%, far higher than the global increase of 43%. We will also record near 50% increase in mortality.
“The poor people are affected, and for me, at governmental level, we need to improve socioeconomic status in the country, we need to improve wellbeing, we need to build a strong system.
“The first thing I did last year was to say we will offer free screenings to about 200,000 women across the country. And, this year, my main mission is to screen women free of charge in Nigeria for cervical cancer.
“And for the first time, I have been able to put Cancer Prevention in my health budget, which is also significant. It is not the quantum of money that is there but the fact that I have been able to include, and I know that within the next one or two years, I will be able to grow that money.”