From Ogun Central to Ogun East and to Ogun West Senatorial Districts, the story is the same. Cancer scourge is no respecter of colour, religion, age or social status. The alarming threat of cancer cases coupled with unavailability of dedicated hospitals to address and tame the deadly disease have succeeded in leaving many in permanent fears and uncertain future. And the death toll arising from cancer cases is highly discouraging.
Thereâ€™s low awareness and no medical navigational routes to assist and support people with these cancerous issues.
At best, the general interpretations and explanations of most people are boorishly painted in religious and cultural beliefs. The regular storyline usually shared is that anyone with cancerous development has suddenly suffered a spiritual attack or has been baptised with the firepower of an arrow.
These were the unfavourable situations in Ogun State until the intervention of the Wife of the State Governor, Mrs. Olufunso Amosun, who believes something must be urgently done to address this deadly scourge.
Thus on October 4, 2012, Mrs. Amosun through her Uplift Development Foundation, organised the first major Free Breast and Cervical Cancer Awareness and Screening programme in four different locations in Ogun State, free of charge.
The programme, which was organised in collaboration with the Ogun State Medical Women Association (MWAN), berthed at the Primary Health Care Centre, Olorunda in Abeokuta North Local Government in Ogun Central Senatorial district of the State
Mrs. Amosunâ€™s campaign train against cancer moved from there to the Primary Health Care Centres in Sagamu, Sagamu Local Government; and in Idari in Ijebu North-east Local Government respectively, all in Ogun East Senatorial district of the state on October 18, 2012. The next point of call was the Primary Health Care Centre, Ilaro in Yewa South Local Government area of Ogun West Senatorial district on October 24, 2012.
Emboldened by the huge turnout and gigantic successes recorded in 2012, the wife of the governor embarked on another round of Free Breast and Cervical Cancer Awareness and Screening Exercise in October 2013.
From the Primary Health Care Centre in Ikenne to that of Alapo in Ijebu-Ode in Ogun East Senatorial district on October 21, 2013; to the Primary Health Care Centre in Adedero in Obafemi-Owode Local Government in Ogun Central Senatorial district to the Primary Health Care Centre, Ibile in Yewa North Local Government in Ogun West Senatorial district on October 23, 2013, Mrs. Amosun intensified her effort to take the message to the nooks and crannies of Ogun State.
The campaign was also sustained in October 2014 but in October 2015, Mrs. Amosunâ€™s Uplift Development Foundation focused on tertiary institutions in Ogun State and gave the students the rare opportunity to get screened free of charge.
Female students in tertiary institutions like Moshood Abiola Polytechnic in Abeokuta and Olabisi Onabanjo University in Ago-Iwoye were given information on breast and cervical cancer and benefited from the free cancer screening exercise by the Wife of the Governor between October 12 and 14, 2015 respectively. The campaign was also taken to the rural women at the Primary Health Care Centres in Itori and Sango-Ota in Ewekoro and Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government areas of Ogun State.
More than 1,200 people were screened and various degrees of breast lumps were discovered. Moved by the increasing numbers of women with lumps in their breasts, Mrs. Amosun felt highly disturbed and said something must be done about these women, rather than abandoning them to their fate.
Thus, she discussed the matter with her husband, the Governor of Ogun State, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, and he graciously approved to foot the bills of the affected women for the excision of these lumps.
The most surprising aspect of the 2015 programme was the discovery of a man with a breast lump. In all, about 40 cases of breast lumps were discovered in women and after screening by surgical experts 30 breast lumps were removed on December 18, 2015 and histology done. The good news was that all the beneficiaries were able to heave sighs of relief and become free from any form of cancerous issue.
In October 2016, Mrs. Amosun took the bolder step in her quest for finding lasting solution to the cancer scourge by establishing and commissioning three Uplift Development Foundation Cancer Screening Centres across the three senatorial districts of Ogun State.
Mrs. Amosunâ€™s position is that the three centres located at the State Hospital, Ijaiye in Abeokuta; Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH) in Sagamu; and the State Hospital in Ota, in Ogun Central; Ogun East; and Ogun West senatorial districts respectively, should provide free breast and cervical cancer screening for all and sundry in the state on a daily basis.
Even with the commissioning, the wife of the governor organised a free cancer screening exercise for market and rural women at the June 12 Cultural Centre in Abeokuta, between October 4 and 5, 2016. It was indeed a huge success. More than 2,000 people were screened and about 70 cases of breast lumps were discovered in women. After the regular screening by surgical experts, 40 breast lumps were removed during the Second Edition of the Annual Free Lumpectomy Surgery which took place at the OOUTH in Sagamu between October 20 and 21, 2016, and histology was done hereafter. In addition to this, 20 cases of women with cervical lesions were discovered and were treated immediately through cryotherapy.
This year, Mrs. Amosunâ€™s Uplift Development Foundation focused on female professionals and civil/public servants. The programme was organised at the Uplift Development Foundation Cancer Screening Centres in Ota, Ijaiye and Sagamu respectively between October 2 and 4, 2017.
At each of the centres, Mrs. Amosun harped on the need for women to examine their breasts regularly and seek prompt medical attention in case of any abnormality in order to reduce the prevalence of breast cancer in the society. She added that early detection is the only prevention for cancer.
She said â€œdue to the prevalence of breast cancer among women, the Uplift Development Foundation took the initiative to launch a massive cancer sensitisation campaign to raise awareness about the disease, which a survey by the World Health Organisation (WHO), revealed that by 2020 there would be 10 million new cases of cancer every year in developing countries, out of which six million will die.â€
She explained that breast and cervical cancer diseases are very serious health challenges that mainly affect women irrespective of age, status and religion. She urged women and ladies from age 16 and above to carry out self-breast examinations on themselves every month after their menstrual period or any other time if they feel uncomfortable with their breasts.
Mrs. Amosun charged participants at the events to take action to curb breast and cervical cancer by availing themselves of the free screenings to know their health status so that the risk of these diseases could be drastically nipped in the bud. She enjoined women across the three senatorial districts to visit any of the Uplift Development Foundation Cancer Screening Centres closer to them throughout the month of October, 2017 and beyond for free screening and treatment.
At the end of the three-day free cancer examination, more than 3,000 women were screened; about 50 cases of various lumps were detected; and three cases of advanced breast cancer were established. Besides, about 100 cases of cervical lesions have been discovered so far.
The wife of the governor assured that all the cases of the breast lumps will be attended to during the Third Edition of the Annual Free Lumpectomy Surgery scheduled to take place between October 26 and 27, 2017 at the Uplift Development Foundation Cancer Screening Centre in Sagamu. She also said all the cases of cervical lesions would receive appropriate treatment immediately like the women with breast lumps. She added that the three advanced cases of the cancer reported will be given optimum attention.
She commended all her sponsors thanking them for the breakthroughs in the cancer awareness and screening exercise in Ogun State in the last five years. She challenged individuals and corporate organisations to always support laudable initiatives aimed at societal developments.
Mrs. Olufunso Amosun through her Uplift Development Foundation has graciously rescued children from becoming motherless untimely; husbands from losing their wives and becoming widowers; and communities from being thrown into regular mourning as a result of cancer attack.
Indeed, the wife of the governor has raised the stake on cancer awareness and screening campaign in Ogun State and the nation at large.
â€“â€“Sowunmi, a media aide to the Wife of the Governor of Ogun State, can be reached via: firstname.lastname@example.org