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FG spreads cancer prevention message …procures 5,000 doses of HPV vaccine for indigent girls

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BY SOLA OGUNDIPE

For little Chioma Chiowunde, a Primary 4 pupil of Excellencia International School in the FCT, Abuja, Friday, February 4, 2011 would be unforgettable. On that day, 10-year-old Chioma, along with several other girls aged 9-15 from within the FCT and environs were vaccinated with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine free-of-charge. The significance of the landmark event was not lost on Chioma.

In a chat, she told Good Health Weekly how delighted she was to be among young girls from indigent homes chosen to receive the special “injection” that would protect them from the germ that causes cancer of the cervix.

The event was highpoint of the public HPV vaccination programme to reduce the burden of cervical cancer cases in the country, in which 5,000 doses of the HPV vaccine, Cervarix, procured from GlaxoSmithKline, were freely-given out.

“Prevention begins with the individual. If you take the effort to go for regular check up and screenings,then you have reduced your risk,”

Minister of Health, noted Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, as he flagged off the vaccination exercise geared towards preventing cervical cancer and in fulfillment of a statement of commitment made in 2010. He said the move was in line with the action PUSH agenda of the health sector. “We are unable to procure for all eligible Nigerian girls. We are only showing the way by starting at the FCT. Whatever is left in our stock,we will collaborate with NIFER to identify more indigent girls who will benefit state-by-state while we collaborate with the manufacturers to drive down the cost of the vaccine so that more people can afford it for the protection of our young girls.” Continuing, the Minister said: “I am taking a bold step of embarking on a Nationwide Cancer Awareness Campaign and free public cancer screening next month at every Local Government in collaboration with the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON). This would end up as better health for Nigerians, “he concluded.

Recalling that the theme of the 2011 World Cancer Day, “Cancer Can Be Prevented” was virtually the same as that for the 2010 celebration,

The Minster said: “The grim statistics that 7.6 million people died from cancer globally, a woman dies of breast cancer every 68 seconds and of cervical cancer every two minutes, brings the world to the full realization that prevention of cancer is better than cure.”

Regretting that cancer is fast becoming the greatest cause of global morbidity and mortality particularly in the developing nations, Chukwu said the devastating effect of cancer has been highlighted severally since the last World Cancer Day as recorded by the death of distinguished personalities underscoring the fact that cancer is no respecter of persons. “Fortunately 40 percent of cancers can be prevented,with cervical cancer being the most preventable.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute described the Free vaccination exercise as one of the responses to the global clarion call to intensify effort in health development promotion. “The public health importance of cancer is noted, and as it stands to day, being a preventable disease, no stone will be left unturned in the effort to increase advocacy. The theme “Cancer Can Be Prevented” needs emphasis to hold us to our responsibility for making sure that others also understand that cancer can be prevented.

In a statement, WHO Regional Director Dr. Louis Sambo described the vaccination exercise as another milestone in the scaling up of the cancer prevention efforts in the country and introduction of a new tool that will prevent cervical cancer.

Speaking, Prof Clement Adebomowo of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Nigeria, said through collaboration with the Ministry of Health, 21 functional cancer registries were set up nationwide over the last two years. “We are working to bring these registries up to the status of population based cancer registries so they can get WHO recognition and begin to publish annual series on cancer statistics in the country.

President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON),Hon Felix Akagbue, restated the Association’s willingness to continue to liaise with the Federal Minstries of Health, Finance and Women Affairs to collaborate and maximize efforts in pushing the cancer prevention campaign, towards reducing cancer to the barest minimum in Nigeria.

According to Prof. Durosinmi-Etti, President of the National Cancer Control Committee (NCCC) the rising incidence of cancerin the country can be controlled through proper diagnosis, treatment management and follow up. “We are ensuring that palliative care and other initiatives are being implemented, but the important thing to note is that there is a general reawakening about cancer nationwide. This is a positive move that will ensure that Nigeria joins the list of countries in which cancer is well controlled prevented,with cervical cancer being the most preventable.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr. Linus Awute described the Free vaccination exercise as one of the responses to the global clarion call to intensify effort in health development promotion. “The public health importance of cancer is noted, and as it stands to day, being a preventable disease, no stone will be left unturned in the effort to increase advocacy. The theme “Cancer Can Be Prevented” needs emphasis to hold us to our responsibility for making sure that others also understand that cancer can be prevented.

In a statement, WHO Regional Director Dr. Louis Sambo described the vaccination exercise as another milestone in the scaling up of the cancer prevention efforts in the country and introduction of a new tool that will prevent cervical cancer.

Speaking, Prof Clement Adebomowo of the Institute of Human Virology (IHV), Nigeria, said through collaboration with the Ministry of Health, 21 functional cancer registries were set up nationwide over the last two years. “We are working to bring these registries up to the status of population based cancer registries so they can get WHO recognition and begin to publish annual series on cancer statistics in the country.

President of the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria (ALGON),Hon Felix Akagbue, restated the Association’s willingness to continue to liaise with the Federal Minstries of Health, Finance and Women Affairs to collaborate and maximize efforts in pushing the cancer prevention campaign, towards reducing cancer to the barest minimum in Nigeria.

According to Prof. Durosinmi-Etti, President of the National Cancer Control Committee (NCCC) the rising incidence of cancerin the country can be controlled through proper diagnosis, treatment management and follow up. “We are ensuring that palliative care and other initiatives are being implemented, but the important thing to note is that there is a general reawakening about cancer nationwide. This is a positive move that will ensure that Nigeria joins the list of countries in which cancer is well controlled

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