NGO Advocates Health Education to Prevent Cancer

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Founder, Smile with Me Foundation, Dr. Chioma Nwakanma

Rebecca Ejifoma

The Founder, Smile with Me Foundation, Dr. Chioma Nwakanma said although it is necessary to vaccinate women against cervical cancer, health education is necessary for better awareness and prevention.

Stating this at the Cervical Cancer Awareness and Vaccination exercise in Lagos recently, she said with a shaky healthcare system like Nigeria’s, people need to be aware of preventive measures.

She said: “In prevention, health education is topmost. Some people say there is common chance prevention is better than cure. It is somehow underrated because it is the reality especially in Nigeria. People need to be aware of what they can do personally to prevent diseases.”

The expert however decried that it was an error for people to be dying from preventable causes or vaccine preventable diseases.

Noting that Smile with Me Foundation was a health education and health aid centred NGO in Nigeria with a mission to reduce mortality rate drastically using health education and healthcare aids as tools, she added that its goal was to treat patients and inform them so they can stay optimal.

According to Nwakanma, cervical cancer was a disease that affects the neck of the womb and was 100 per cent preventable.

The expert provided solutions as: early and routine screening every three to five years, and vaccination can help. “Females aged nine to 26 years should get the HPV vaccine and women from age 26 to 45 should still get vaccinated.

“Women should avoid having multiple sexual partners, early onset of sexual intercourse, smoking, women who have had children more than four, and women who have had a family history of cancer from the maternal side, especially should get screened and vaccinated.”

Since its establishment in August 2017, Smile with Me has screened over 5,000 women in Nigeria. It has its presence in Abia, Ebonyi, Abuja, Lagos and Imo states.

“We are trying to reach women worldwide. Today, I urge women out there living with cancer, not throw in the towel. I don’t know the stage you are in. However, there is still hope.

“Enjoy time and the people around you. The most important thing I have realised having been with patients, enjoy the time you have. Advise women to get screened,” she advised.