By Udora Orizu
As Nigeria joins the global community to mark this year’s World Cancer Day, the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) has called on civil society organizations and other stakeholders to intensify advocacies and organise more sensitization programmes, especially in rural areas, to enlighten the public on preventive measures to reduce the prevalence of cancer.
NAWOJ, in a statement signed by its National President, Ladi Bala, appealed to the federal and state governments to partner national and international stakeholders to record more laudable achievements in managing cancer cases in the country, as well as commit adequate resources to reduce cancer death.
The group noted that unless government intervenes significantly, more Nigerians would continue to die of cancer.
It also encouraged individuals to go for checkups and examinations regularly, as early detection saves lives.
The statement reads: ”February 4, every year is observed as World Cancer Day. It is an international event to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment. The 2021 global theme ‘I Am And I Will’, acknowledges the fact that our commitment to act will lead to powerful progress in reducing the global impact of cancer and create a cancer-free world. It is a call for everyone, irrespective of who you are, because your actions – big and small – will make lasting, positive change.
”Although the federal government, last year, allayed fears of a rise in Nigeria’s cancer burden, saying it has upgraded seven tertiary health institutions to manage invasive cancer and cancer- related illnesses in the country, NAWOJ observes that some factors still militate against government efforts at effectively combating cancer scourge in Nigeria.
”These include poor awareness, poor health seeking behaviour, low level of non-governmental investments, low number of skilled health care personnel, funding gaps. Other factors are the myopic view that cancer is a disease of the rich amid the reality that the poor and downtrodden are suffering in silence as well as myths and misconceptions that lead to stigmatization and discrimination against people living with cancer.
”There is no doubt that there is cure when detected early, therefore, we encourage regular checkups and examinations as most cancers can be removed with either drugs, radiotherapy or surgeries, when detected early. NAWOJ believes everyone has the capacity to address the cancer burden and that, together, we can work to reduce cancer risk factors and overcome barriers to early diagnosis, treatment and palliative care in Nigeria.”