THE Federal Government, yesterday, said that over 72,000 Nigerians die annually of cancer related diseases across the country.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said this in Akure during the 20th anniversary of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, the pet programme of the state governor’s wife, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu.
Adewole lamented that up to 102,000 people are affected by the dreaded disease annually.
According to him, “Cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in Nigeria every year, with an estimated 102,000 new cases annually.”
This is coming as Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, announced that his administration would construct a cancer centre in the state to take care of victims of the disease.
Akeredolu promised that architects would soon commence work on the centre and its construction would be completed before the end of his tenure.
However, continuing Adewole said: “Data also shows that breast and cervical cancer are the two most common types of cancer responsible for approximately 50.3 percent of all cancer cases in Nigeria.
The minister said that consequently, the Federal Government has commenced a process of establishing dedicated cancer chemotherapy wards in nine Federal Tertiary Health institutions across the country.
Adewole spoke through the Chief Medical Director, CMD, of Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, OAUTH, Ile-Ife Osun State , Prof Victor Adetiloye.
“We have developed a new National Cancer Control Plan 2018 to 2022. This National Cancer Control Plan is the product of extensive inter-sectoral collaboration involving government, academia, bilateral and multilateral organization and civil society.
“This National Cancer Control Plan provides a clear road map as to how the Ministry envisions cancer controls efforts for the country to be within the next five years and beyond.
“ Beyond the cancer patients and their families, this plan will serve as launch pad to reduce the incidence and prevalence of cancer in Nigeria.”
Adewole said the Federal Government has remained in the forefront on fight against cancer in the country.
According to him; ‘’The government has commenced a process of reducing the cost of cancer drugs by 50 percent in our hospitals by direct pooled procurement to ensure availability of quality and cost effective chemotherapeutic agents in the country.
“These initiatives will make cancer treatment relatively affordable by patients.
Wife of the governor Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who is a breast cancer survivor, said that the disease is not a death sentence and that early detection and treatment will save lives.
She asked patients with the disease not to lay the cause on the doorsteps of witches. Akereolu identified misconceptions about causes of the disease and lack of equipment for diagnosis and treatment for the high rate of deaths among women suffering from cancer in Nigeria.
“Breast cancer is not caused by witchcraft and the belief that it is the handiwork of enemies make many women to keep it to themselves while seeking spiritual solution.
“In many cases, it is always late before these women bring out their cases ad when they do this, treatment is difficult.”
The wife of the governor advised women with the disease to make hospital their first port of call rather than seeking spiritual help, saying breast cancer should not be seen as death sentence.