Chang­ing the tide against cancer in Nige­ria

The Punch - - EDITORIAL - Muham­mad Mikail

or surgery and that is why some un­der-served com­mu­ni­ties be­lieve cancer to be a big man’s disease.

Dis­cus­sion around cancer in Nige­ria is shrouded in se­crecy, in­for­ma­tion around such themes is al­most ab­sent in the me­dia, stigma and lack of proper health ed­u­ca­tion push a lot of suf­fer­ers into iso­la­tion and away from help. Most times, peo­ple see you as a ‘walk­ing corpse’ once you are di­ag­nosed with cancer. Some might even start count­ing down to the day of your ul­ti­mate demise. In­deed, cancer is a life-al­ter­ing disease and ev­ery suf­ferer de­serves all the love, sup­port and care they can get.

Nige­ria still lags be­hind in terms of bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion to­wards health with a 4.1 per cent of the na­tional bud­get this year, a mar­ginal im­prove­ment on the 3.9 per cent al­lo­cated in 2018. Even though it seems in­signif­i­cant, it is an im­prove­ment and an in­di­ca­tion that the tide is chang­ing against cancer in Nige­ria. More so, with the prom­ise of fo­cus­ing on im­prov­ing the coun­try’s fa­cil­i­ties for the pre­ven­tion, early di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment of cancer, the Pres­i­dent, Ma­jor Gen­eral Muham­madu Buhari (retd.) ear­lier this year in­au­gu­rated a new $11m cancer treat­ment centre at the Lagos Univer­sity Teach­ing Hos­pi­tal. In the same vein, Nige­ria has moved to in­clude cancer in its Na­tional Health In­sur­ance Scheme. This is in order to reach as many Nige­ri­ans as pos­si­ble through ac­cess to cancer care, pre­ven­tion, early di­ag­no­sis and treat­ment.

Gen­er­ally, there seem to be grow­ing ef­forts and col­lab­o­ra­tions across all sec­tors to raise aware­ness on cancer pre­ven­tion, di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and con­trol in Nige­ria and this has led to the up­spring of so many grass­roots ini­tia­tives like Med­i­caid Cancer Foun­da­tion lead­ing the charge. Med­i­caid was founded in 2009 by a renowned pae­di­a­tri­cian and hu­man­i­tar­ian, Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, to cre­ate aware­ness around cancer pre­ven­tion, early de­tec­tion, di­ag­no­sis, treat­ment and pal­lia­tive care and has won so many lau­rels and recog­ni­tions from dif­fer­ent lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions to that ef­fect.

Strate­gic pro­grammes, events, in­ter­ven­tions and vic­tim sup­port have been rolled out by Med­i­caid in the past with sup­port and col­lab­o­ra­tion from in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions, CSOS, gov­ern­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tions and the me­dia. The most re­cent event amongst many oth­ers was the Na­tional Walk against Cancer with the hash tag #Walk­a­way­cancer. The event fea­tured sup­port from all First Ladies of Nige­ria, in­clud­ing Mrs Aisha Buhari; Mrs Do­lapo Os­in­bajo, wife of the Vice Pres­i­dent, top Nige­ri­ans artists, ac­tors and ac­tresses, CSOS, INGOS, the me­dia and Nige­ri­ans from dif­fer­ent walks of life with one mes­sage: The fight against cancer is a col­lec­tive one and ev­ery­one has a stake.

Other ini­tia­tives in­clude Fe­male Bik­ers Ini­tia­tive founded by Nnenna Sa­muila and Jem­i­nat Olumeg­bon in Au­gust 2017 to help cre­ate aware­ness of var­i­ous fe­male health is­sues, par­tic­u­larly breast and cer­vi­cal cancer. “We are rid­ing to change the cul­ture of ig­no­rance and re­duce the mor­tal­ity rate of women dy­ing from cancer disease in Nige­ria” says Olumeg­bon. Project Pink Blue founded by Run­cie Chidebe, J-rapha Hos­pi­tal in Ibadan, Saphire Med­i­cals in Port Har­court, to men­tion but a few, have all lent their sup­port through nu­mer­ous ad­vo­cacy ef­forts and free screen­ing out­reaches.

The threat of cancer is a grave one and should take the front burner in our na­tional dis­course. The me­dia is a ma­jor stake­holder and should be set­ting agenda, themes, lead­ing dis­cus­sions, in­for­ma­tion dis­sem­i­na­tion on cancer, its threats, chal­lenges, pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and sup­port with col­lab­o­ra­tions with all rel­e­vant stake­hold­ers es­pe­cially in a coun­try like Nige­ria whose pop­u­la­tion largely depend on the me­dia to make sense of the world. With all th­ese and a col­lec­tive re­solve to treat cancer as a na­tional emer­gency, we can change the tide against cancer in Nige­ria.

•Mikail wrote from Jabi, Abuja – Twit­ter @Bran­dazuka

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.