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Govt tasked on preventive health

…as ACPN educates members on cancer mgt

By Chioma Obinna

Government at all levels must pay more attention to preventive health and empower all health practitioners with a view to reducing life threatening diseases like cancer in the country.

In a chat with Good Health Weekly shortly after the opening ceremony of a cancer seminar organised by the National Association of Community Pharmacists’ (ACPN) Drug Information Centre (DIC) in collaboration with Lagos State Branch of ACPN,  the DIC  Chairperson,  Pharm. Folasade Olufunke said more focus on preventive health will not only reduce the number of deaths from most life threatening diseases but reduce cost of treatments.

Olufunke who also advocated for subsidisation of medical treatment for affordability called for more awareness on cancer screening.

According to her, early detection has been identified as major key to surviving cancer of all kinds.

Her words, “Early screening is necessary when it comes to management of cancer and this is why the ACPN has decided to update our members on current advancement on the diseases.”

Continuing, Olufunke who explained the rationale why Pharmacists should be involved in the campaign against all cancers in the country, said according to the World Health  Organisation’s (WHO)  statistics, 40 per cent of cancers are preventable and that since the Pharmacists is the first point of call for the sick and their likes, there is need to update Nigerian pharmacists on current trends in the management of the disease.

“We are empowering our members all over  the country. We are planning to take this to all the states of the Federation. Again, since some cancers could be prevented,  all health care professionals must be involved if we are going to achieve substantial results. We want to be able to talk to the populace that  they don’t have to come down with this diseases there are certain things they can do on their own like breast examinations. We are part of the management because when these patients are diagnosed and place on  medications,  pharmacists as expert in drugs will be able to counsel the patient on how to use the drugs and when they are having reactions, they Pharmacists should be able to counsel them”

Also speaking, the National Coordinator of  National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCPP), an initiative of the Mass Medical Mission (MMM), Dr. Kin Egwuonwu who called for massive and awareness campaigns  on early screening disclosed  that 10 commonest cancers affect about 500,000 Nigerians out of which about 400,000 die annually.

Stating that at least four cancers could be prevented in Nigeria, Egwuonwu said “With early screening, there will be reduction in death, for example colon cancer is 90 percent  preventable but there some cancers that you cannot easily prevent, like leukemia. Breast cancer,  if a woman does mammogram every year, the  reduction in cancer of the breast  is about 30 percent but in case of cancer of the cervix is over 70 percent”

Also, speaking, the Chairman Lagos ACPN, Mr. Felix Anine who lamented the increasing number of deaths from cancer in Nigeria noted that cancer has become a topical issue in the country.

Calling on Nigerians to embrace early screening for cancers and their likes, Aneih charged participants that Pharmacists have a role top play in combating the scourge of cancer.

“We are training our members because they have a role to play in the management of cancer. We want them to be abreast of the new advancement in treatments to avoid further complications from the disease since they are the first point of call for both educated and illiterate patients. If they don’t give the appropriate drugs it could cause complications and again, they will also help to direct  people for screening once the notice any signs from what they patients told them. This will increase the awareness on early screening campaign.”


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