By Sola Ogundipe & Chinyere Amalu
A TOTAL of N100 million has so far been raised by the National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCPP), an initiative of the Mass Medical Mission (MMM), in its bid to raise N250 million towards achieving the goal of setting up cancer screening centres in all the 36 States of the Federation.
About N6 million is required to set up each Centre. The goal is also part of the determination to detect cancer at its infant stage especially at the grassroots.
The sum was raised in Abuja recently during an international cancer awareness dinner organised by the body to raise funds for its activities as well as to honour prominent Nigerians who lost their lives in the battle against cancer.
The event also featured the swearing-in of new Golden Links and Golden Pillars of Cancer Prevention in Nigeria and also the celebration of the lives of some notable Nigerians who have lost their lives to Cancer.
General Theophilus Danjuma who donated N2.5 million per State contributed the sum of N90 million, but with a clause that each state governor donates N4 million counterpart funding to complement the cancer control efforts and have access to a screening centre.
Speaking at the event, former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon who chaired the occasion commended the efforts of the NCPP in cancer prevention in Nigeria and encouraged support for the fund raising initiative.
Keynote speaker at the event, Prof. Abayomi Durosinmi-Etti, who is Chairman of the National Consultative Committee on Cancer Control in Nigeria called for a more pro-active effort if Nigeria stands a chance of winning the battle against cancer. â€œScreening, vaccination and early detection are very critical in the fight against Cancer. We all need to act in order to prevent the continuous recurrence of deaths as a result of Cancer in Nigeria,.â€he noted
Dr. Olaokun Soyinka, Health Promotion Officer of the World Health Organisation urged the government to support the mmmNCPP as part of its Public Health initiatives.
National Coordinator , NCPP, Rev. Canon Kin Egwuonwu observed that in the immediate term, the organisation would â€œneed a basic screening centre in all the states and eventually all the local government areas of the country.â€
In the proposed programme, another N5.2 million is required to facilitate an extension to each of the 774 local governments areas.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative, Dr. Peter Erick, lamented the state of cancer control. â€œScreening is not really preventing it but catching it at the early stage so that curative measure can be taken. We can reduce the incidence of cancer by supporting MMM to establish these Centres.â€
â€œIf there are some political will that can lead to high commitment by all levels of government and private sectors at all levels, cancer spread can be controlled.
â€œOur environment cannot be safe when we allow goats to feed on plastics, nylon bags, whose chemical contents are high. We consume these goats and it is very dangerous to our health. Behavioural change and communication strategy, increased access to health facilities will lead to prevention of cancerâ€, she added.Â The event featured testimonies by Nigerians who have either survived cancer or have nursed others through the disease. Highpoint of the event was lighting of the Cancer Awareness Torch, which was passed on to the Ambassador-General of the NCPP, Mr. Biodun Shobanjo, by Hajia Aisha Babangida-Shinkafi, daughter of former first Lady, Late Mrs. Maryam Babangida.
She led the list of those who lost the battle to cancer to obtain posthumous awards. Others are Late Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Mr. Yinka Craig, Evangelist Sunny Okosun and Dr. Ade Adebayo.
Those sworn in as Golden Links were daughter of Late Mrs. Mariam Babangida, wife of Zamfara State Governor, Hajia Aisha Babangida-Shinkafi, Senator Dr. Grace Folashade Bent, Mrs. Ify Umenyi, and Senator Ufot Ekaette.Â Â Â The Golden Pillars sworn in include Owelle Rochas Okorocha, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu, Chief Dr. Samuel Olorunfemi Adekunle, Professor Osita C. Eze, Mr. Ini-Obong Michael Akpabio, Alhaji Lamis Shehu Dikko, Dr. May N. Nzeribe and Engr. Robert N. Dike.