Progress Godfrey, Abuja
Project PINK BLUE, a non-governmental organisation, has called on government to take action to eliminate cervical cancer by investing in research and vaccines among others.
The Programs Coordinator of Project PINK BLUE, Ms Gloria Okwu made this appeal during an interview with journalists in Abuja on Saturday as part of activities marking World Cancer Day 2023 with the theme: “Close the Care Gap: Uniting our Voices and Taking Action.”
Ms Okwu called on government to make affordable and accessible, vaccines for cervical cancer which would help prevent the deadly health condition.
She worried that despite the mortality rate recorded, government was yet to make policies to strengthen research and close the care cap. She, therefore, called on government to improve on its commitments.
She said, “ We have two messages for today, the most important one is for government to take action in eliminating cervical cancer. There is a vaccine for cervical cancer – we want the government to make it accessible and affordable so that people can vaccinate their children. At least this cancer is preventable, let us prevent it and deal with the others that we don’t have control over. Secondly, it is for government to start funding cancer research.
“An act was passed in 2017 to establish the national cancer research and treatment institute. The cancer institute would have been able to bring together all cancer efforts in one place, like managing cancer research, diagnosis, and treatment. The act has not been gazetted. If that act was in operation, maybe we would be having a more streamlined cancer operation. Every effort would be pointing towards impact.
“We are asking government to gazette this act, we are asking government to provide vaccines and fund research; let us have Nigerians carry out research on Nigerians on what drugs we should use to reduce the rate of cancer deaths in Nigeria.”
She stated that the aim of this year’s commemoration was to create awareness for people in Abuja and its environs as well as to conduct free screening for cervical cancer, portrait cancer and breast cancer; “these are the 3 major cancers in Nigeria.
According to her, besides the cancer screening, “we are here to provide the basic screenings like blood pressure, blood sugar and BMI. After the basic screenings, if we notice any abnormalities, we do follow-up with the patients until we are sure. If it’s cancer, then we navigate it to the appropriate health centres.”
The organisation as part of this year’s activities, had a 5 kilometre walk tagged “choke cancer”, during which it educated people on the importance of early detection through screening, among other.
Speaking further, Gloria Orji, the President, Network of People Impacted by Cancer in Nigeria (NEPICIN), advocated for the prompt and full implementation of the cancer treatment fund.
She said Nigeria suffers as cancer deaths increased yearly, due to lack of treatment.
On the “partial” implementation of the funds, Ms Orji said only about 400 patients have so far benefited from the fund according to the information she received.
“The last time I received information about the fund, I was told about 400 patients have benefited which is still a drop in the ocean. We have about N1 billion yet to be accessed.
“We plead for this fund to be released to support cancer patients and help them survive the killer disease,” she said.