Wife of Ondo state governor, Betty Anyanwu Akeredolu described as unacceptable, the situation of a fewer number of cancer control centres in Nigeria.
She spoke at a Press Conference organised by the Coalition Against Cancer, a group of civil societies to commemorate the World Cancer day in Ondo State.
Mrs. Akeredolu, founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, an association that is committed to the fight against cancer, faulted the level of cancer control system in Nigeria, and called on governments at all levels to rise to the situation.
She lamented that despite the fact that Nigeria has a national cancer plan, it was yet to be implemented and domesticated at the state and local government levels.
“Radiotherapy is an important treatment option for cancer patients yet it is not generally available in Nigeria.
“About nine radiotherapy centers, most of which are usually not functional for most of the year are available in a country of over 190 million people, whereas Morocco with a population of just about six million people has 17 functional radiotherapy centres as of 2014.
“It must first be recognized that most factors impeding positive cancer outcome are multi-faceted yet integrated. It is therefore important to apply a holistic approach to breast cancer programming. Addressing an aspect of the continuum in isolation will in many cases yield very little positive result’, she noted.
The wife of the governor, who championed the Coalition of Civil Societies Against Cancer, through BRECAN, also implored government to create more awareness about cancer and its prevention through the introduction of Clinical Breast Examination (CBE) at various health centres in Nigeria.
“An additional way to go is routine based population-level screening using Clinical Breast Examination (CBE). Whereas mammography-based screening programme is the current trend, however, the applicability is limited in low- and middle income countries because of the challenges of poor infrastructure, poverty, and inadequate manpower.
“Waiting until such capabilities are developed, will lead to continued loss of life as a result of late presentation.
“We therefore strongly advocate that population-based screening of breast cancer using CBE be adopted as a policy and offered at the primary health care facilities, nationwide.
“Using Ondo state as an example, there is at least one primary health care facility in each ward. If CBE services are offered at all the primary health centers, we can be sure we will be covering up to 80 percent of our target population since 85 percent of pregnant women in the state receive ANC at health facilities and up to 74 percent have institutional delivery, indicating high patronage of the health facilities by women of reproductive age,” she stated.
She urged women to always carry out self-examination on their breasts and consult the nearest hospital, rather than consulting spiritual fathers before it becomes uncontrollable.
The Chairman of the Coalition Against Cancer in the State, Dr. Pat. Abba affirmed that early detection of Cancer would save victims from untimely death.
He attributed the high rate of death through cancer to high cost of cancer treatment, and called on the to the federal government to emulate developed countries where treatment of cancer is given utmost attention.