Why Nigeria Must go pink to fight cancer – Prof. Okoye
Professor of Radiology, College of Med, UNN/UNTH, Coordinator, ‘Breast Without Spot and Nigeria’s most prominent cancer awareness campaigner says Nigerians must be united in pink throughout the month of October and join the global campaign against cancer.
The month of October is marked worldwide as the breast cancer month. Pink is the official colour for cancer. Prof. Okoye told NHO in an exclusive interview that the essence of adorning the pink colour is mainly to draw attention to the disease which is still shrouded in ignorance in the country.
Prof. Okoye, said Nigerians, more than any other nationals in the world, have more to benefit from the October campaign because the country loses too many people to the dreaded disease every year and ought to take the lead in joining the campaign which is aimed at encouraging people to go for screening, seek treatment early when detected and also take steps towards its prevention.
“No fewer than 10 people die from cancer every hour in this country. Every day, it kills about 240 people and about 81,000 people every year. Globally, a woman dies from breast cancer and every two minutes a woman dies from cervical cancer.
“You can now see why Nigerians must join this campaign. Take cervical cancer for instance, it doesn’t have to kill anybody. This is because the virus that causes the disease, the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) has been found and an antidote to the virus has been found. There is a vaccine that is affordable and available. But we are still not using the vaccine because of our attitudinal challenges, we have ignorance, denial and poverty,”
The campaign, she said, is meant to draw attention of Nigerians to the fact that too many people are dying needless death from cancer because people report for treatment too late, when nothing much could be done to save them.
“Too many people are dying due to cultural, religious belief or plain ignorance about cancer. Nigerians must cultivate the habit of going for regular screening to detect cancer. They must learn to report early for treatment. They must learn to seek medical intervention early enough to prevent cancer death.
“According to statistics, one out of eight people will have cancer in Nigeria if nothing is done about it. This must not happen. We must all act now.”
Prof. Okoye urged every Nigerian to add “a touch of pink” to their dressing this month of October and generally paint everywhere pink to remind everyone about cancer and the fact that it can be subdued just like Ebola.