An Isanlu-based Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) in Yagba East L.G.A, Kogi State, Nigeria, Dove-Haven Foundation (DHF), has organised a virtual symposium on Cancer as apart of the foundation’s statutory activities to stem the tide of high prevalence of cancer in Nigeria.
The organization which was established to promote health and wellbeing of people by reducing cancer threat in the society, featured “Cancer Control in Nigeria: Can We Get It Right?” as the title of the symposium.
The program was designed to raise cancer awareness and education in the society; and to provide easy access to cancer screening, diagnosis, management; as well as enhance the quality of life of cancer patients in Nigeria.
In their separate lectures, the Guest Speakers at the symposium elucidated extensively on the need to nip the spread of cancer in the bud through various health mechanisms and lifestyles.
The outstanding speakers the virtual symposium were Professor Francis A. Durosinmi-Etti, Chief Clinical Oncologist, NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, LUTH; Dr. Rahmatu Y. Hassan, Chief Consultant at Asfar Medical and Immediate past National Coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria; and Professor Oladapo Campbell, Visiting Consultant Radiation and Clinical Oncologist, Department of Radiotherapy and Oncology, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto; and Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, the Hon. Commissioner for Health, Osun State.
The Professors among the speakers are members of the Dove-Haven Foundation Technical Team while Dr. Rahmatu is a member of the NGO’s Board of Trustees.
Prof Francis Durosinmi-Etti, who spoke on the general topic “Cancer control in Nigeria, can we get it right” at the symposium was very optimistic that Nigeria can get it right and make Cancer treat a thing of the past.
Professor Durosinmi-Etti appreciated the immense contributions of the Federal Ministry of Health especially those at the National Cancer Control Programme desk for their frantic efforts towards reducing the rate of Cancer incidence in the country.
Prof Durosinmi-Etti said the Federal Government had good intentions for her citizens, pointing out that one of such is the establishment of the first National Cancer Control Plan (2008-2013), and the recent plan covering 2018-2022.
He mentioned that the document contains a road map, a coordinated program that is holistic in nature, saying that this document can be obtained from the Ministry and also available online.
He stated that cancer of the breast and cervic form over 50% of cancers in females in Nigeria and prostate cancer is the commonest in males, he however, revealed that colorectal cancer is on the increase and this, according to him, is common in both males and females, saying that early detection is the best cure.
In his address, the Executive Director of Dove-Haven Foundation delivered, Dr. Ekundayo Samuel, said the rationale behind the symposium was to look for ways by which the prevalence of cancer can be checkmated in the society.
Dr Ekundayo expressed worried over the increased rate of cancer incidence in Nigeria coupled with poor infrastructure, lack of accurate data to plan for cancer patients, and also project into the future.
The DHF Executive Director quoted the cancer report of GLOBOCAN and Federal Ministry of Health as regards Nigeria, saying that ‘the continuous rise in the incidence of cancer burden in Nigeria, Africa and globally was a great concern to all the stakeholders.
He explained that it has become worrisome that cancer alone kills more than AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria put together.
“Globally, in 2018, GLOBOCAN reported that an estimated 9.6 million death occurred from cancer with 18.1 million new cases. It was projected that by the year 2030, about 30 million people will be living with cancer and one in two persons will have one form of cancer or another if nothing is done”.
“In Nigeria, 100,000 new cases were reported in 2012 and this figure rose to about 500,000 in 2015 according to GLOBOCAN. Sadly, sub-Saharan Africa has access to about 5% of the global cancer resources, yet, about 80% of the newly diagnosed cases of cancer occur in this region where Nigeria belongs. These frightening statistics led us to start this organization last year 2019 in order to salvage the situation” he added.
Dr Ekundayo disclosed that his organization was aimed at reducing cancer threat and in the spirit of giving back to the society, they have decided to put in place this program in order to enlighten the public on cancer control.
He further said that his hope and aspirations were that this event will give more enlightenment to every Nigerian especially the underserved communities, clinicians, educational and research institutions, policymakers, relevant government MDAs, other NGOs, health correspondents from the media and non-media print, pharmaceutical industries, even cancer patients.
In his comment, the Hon. Commissioner for Health, Osun State, Dr. Rafiu Isamotu, in his opening remark, commended Dove-Haven Foundation for organising this very important symposium addressing a key national issue.
The Commissioner further stated that cancer screening is key in the control of cancer in Nigeria, stressing that hardly will you found someone who does not know someone with cancer if they themselves are not harbouring the disease.
He appealed to the States and Federal Government to intensify screening programs as this will help to detect most people with cancer, adding that “the cost of treating cancer is huge he said, therefore the need to detect cases early because, when detected early it is easier and cheaper to manage.
In her contribution, Dr. Rahmatu Hassan was of the opinion that Nigeria can get it right in the area of cancer control, saying that to control is to dominate, have power, regulate and there are tools implored in the control of cancer in Nigeria such as prevention which includes lifestyle changes for example in the case of cervical cancer, immunization against the causative agent human papillomavirus; an education which includes awareness, training; infrastructure such as equipment and buildings; data generation and research, this will help in planning.
Dr. Rahmatu said that the Federal Ministry of Health has been working with the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries and at the moment, the Ministry has about 30 cancer registries. The individual registry helps to gather data from the assigned coverage area. They gather data and transmit to the Ministry, the Ministry then work with the data and can in the same vein transmit to the International body to quote on behalf of Nigeria.
She said another tool the Government has been using to control cancer is the use of Palliative care. There is the Association of Auspices and Palliative Care with branches in most of the hospitals in Nigeria.
However, she used the medium to ask the Association to be more active in the dispatch of their functions. Dr. Rahmatu clearly urges non-governmental organisations to diversify in their mode of operation rather than every NGO focusing on cancer awareness and screening. NGOs or stakeholders should have niches or specific areas of interest. She finally said that the mental health aspect of cancer control should be carefully looked into.