The Federal Government says it will establish dedicated cancer chemotherapy wards in nine federal tertiary institutions across the country.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, disclosed this in Akure at the 3rd International Symposium and 20th anniversary of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) on Wednesday.
Adewole, who was represented by Dr Victor Adetiloye, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife, said that the centre would be provided with all necessary equipment to provide adequate supportive care which has been lacking in hospitals.
The minister added that the federal government had also started a process of reducing the cost of cancer drugs by 50 per cent in hospitals through direct procurement to ensure availability of quality and cost-effective chemotherapy agents in the country.
According to him, the initiatives will make cancer treatment relatively affordable by patients.
Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State also promised to establish a breast cancer management centre in the state to support the fight against the scourge.
The governor reiterated his commitment to the fight, saying that he had strong belief in advocacy of BRECAN.
“I believe in your advocacy and I will do what I can for BRECAN because it is for people of Ondo State in particular and Nigeria in general.
“We will establish breast cancer management centre. We will pursue this with what we have and it will be done.
“We will look for a good architect to design it because breast cancer must be vigorously fought,” he said.
The governor, who solicited support for breast cancer awareness campaign, also called on well meaning Nigerians to help those in dire need to combat breast cancer.
He said all hands must be on deck to fight the dreaded disease, calling on women to strive hard to have proper knowledge of the scourge.
Akeredolu thanked BRECAN for its 20 years of doggedness and resolute firmness to fight the scourge, saying it is a good forum to discuss strategies of fighting cancer.
He, therefore, thanked his wife, who is the founder of BRECAN, Mrs Betty Ayanwu-Akeredolu, and other members of the association for their unrelenting efforts to create proper awareness on cancer.
Earlier, the BRECAN founder described the association as a beacon of hope for womenfolk, expressing confidence that breast cancer could be defeated.
“I am ready to tell anyone, who cares to listen, that breast cancer can be defeated if we do right things at right time.
“I am proud of BRECAN achievements recorded so far and the struggle continues.
“We do provide platform for local and international groups to render assistance in waging war against breast cancer and provision of modern techniques.
“And we are to introduce comprehensive initiatives to Ondo State Government to support our programmes. I will continue to mount pressure on Mr Governor, who has promised to be of help, and I know he will not renege on his promise,” she stated.
In his paper tagged “Attitude towards Breast Cancer in Nigeria: The Way Forward’’, Prof. Friday Okonofua, Vice Chancellor of University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, Ondo State, recommended intensive awareness reaction and information dissemination.
“We should take prevention, rather than curative, more seriously in this country. The most important thing is to have early detection and report immediately because waiting more than 30 days is risky.
“It is the awareness campaign, as being done by BRECAN, and not radiotherapy that can stop its spread,’’ he said.
Okonofua added that late detection, poor knowledge about the disease, low self-assessment and erroneous religious belief, among others, contributed immensely to the rise of the disease.