Foundation Urges Govt to Set Up Cancer Screening Services

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Rebecca Ejifoma

Medical expert and founder of Optimal Cancer Care Foundation, Dr. Femi Olaleye, has urged government to set up cancer screening services in every local governments through the existing Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) and partnership with NGOs who already have track record and capacity to do it.

He said this during the Cervical Cancer Awareness Walk in Surulere at the weekend in collaboration with Equity Assurance to screen 2,000 women in Lagos State and raise awareness on cervical cancer in line with World Cervical Cancer Awareness Week.

According to him, “About 8,000 Nigerian women die annually to this cancer. We are not screening our women. Without intervention that figure will increase. It’s a major public health issue for Nigeria but we aren’t dealing with it as a national problem,” he disclosed.

“Other parts of the world are vaccinating their young girls. But because we are not doing that, we belong to the group of countries with higher mortality to cervical cancer. That’s a published study,” he added.

Reacting to rumours that washing the cervix with soap results in cervical cancer, the expert rebuffed it, expressing that the only way women can avoid cervical cancer is by not having sex. “It is a sexually transmitted virus. And we cannot tell women not to have sex.”

“Then get vaccination. It protects women and girls from getting the HPV virus from the age of 10. However, it is not advisable to wash inside the vagina. It predisposes women to more infection and it has no way of preventing HPV.”

He, therefore, urged that regular screening and vaccination were the only ways to prevent having the disease. The expert insisted on two to three years of screening at least two or three times within a 10-year span till the age of 65.

The medical specialist further lauded the organisations – subsidiary company Equity Assurance Plc, Manage Healthcare services HMO – for their support in the screening of 2,000 women, an exercise which will run for some months in Lagos State. “Indeed, this organisation gave us donations to support free screening for 2,000 women. Although we cannot screen 2,000 women in one day, it will expand till the next couple of months.”

Speaking also, the Head of Brand Communications with Equity Assurance, Oluwayemisi Mafe, said this was their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). According to her, they needed to look at where “the society needs intervention so that we can move in in such areas. Health is a very pivotal aspect in life.”

“We felt the need to help. And January being the month of Cervical cancer awareness, we used to sponsor an awareness walk and screen those interested,” she added.