Lack of investments, dearth of skilled manpower aggravating Cancer deaths

Cancer. PHOTO: News Republica

A cocktail of factors have continued to thwart attempts to drive down the alarming rate of cancer-related deaths in the country.

According to experts, key factors that are responsible for the death of 80, 000 out of every 100, 000 down with cancer in the country include low of non-governmental investments, low number of skilled healthcare personnel, funding gaps, and late presentation for treatment.

The country’s pathetic cancer epidemic situation, as confirmed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that 240 Nigerians die every day from the scourge, that translates to 10 Nigerians passing on every hour as a result of cancer.

Statistics from the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries (NSCR), also indicate that over 60 per cent of all cancer cases in the country occur in women and are mainly traced to breast, cervical and ovarian cancers. The figures show that breast cancer in Nigeria has increased significantly with over 100, 000 new cases diagnosed yearly, which translate into 8, 333 monthly, 274 daily or approximately 11 cases every hour.

Previous figures from 2009 to 2013 also showed that while men account for 34 per cent, women cancers account for 66 per cent of all cancers documented in the country.

However, a radiologist at the Radiation Medicine Department University of Nigeria College of Medicine (UNCM) and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, yesterday hailed the passage of the Bill for an Act to provide for the establishment of National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment by the Senate.

She said the grim statistics underpinned the earnest quest by the 8th National Assembly to move against the surge by laying a solid legal foundation upon which present and future superstructures of interventions aimed at the control, treatment and prevention of the disease in the country would be mounted.

Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who said this year, it is estimated that there will be 14 million new cases of cancer while eight million people will die from the disease globally, urged “Nigerians to get active and help combat this deadly disease.

In a statement, yesterday, he stressed that a “healthy lifestyle is one of the weapons in the fight against cancer and a lot other non-communicable diseases,” adding that the ministry has developed jingles on cancer awareness in English language, pidgin, Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba and these are available for broadcast to general public on radio and social media.

Adewole said the ministry would partner with the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to broadcast the awareness jingles on 1,000 long distance buses, adding that the ministry has approved a community-based free cancer screening project and the pilot phase will commence before the end of this month at Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja.

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