By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – As part of activities to mark this year’s International Women’s Day, the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria (MBGN) 2012, Isabella Agbor Ayuk, on Thursday, organised community sensitisation, free cervical cancer screening and treatment for women in Ushafa community, Bwari Area Council of the FCT.
The programme, which also featured capacity building exercise for primary healthcare workers in the community on early detection and treatment of the ailment, had about 200 rural women benefiting from the medical outreach.
In a chat with journalists at the Ushafa Primary Healthcare Centre, where the outreach took place, Ayuk expressed concern over the low-level of awareness, on the part of women, on the need to go for regular screening for early detection of the disease.
She noted that limited human and financial resources, uninformed and disempowered female population, poverty, and poorly developed health care centres were some of the reasons responsible for the high rate of deaths among women in the country due to cervical cancer.
According to her, “in Nigeria, it is reported that over 30 million women of reproductive age are at risk of developing cervical cancer with an estimated 10,000 deaths annually.
“Cervical screening helps diagnose the disease at an early pre-cancerous stage so that necessary measures can be applied to ensure the ailment does not develop. So, the essence of screening tests conducted on these women is to identify pre-cancerous changes in the cells of the cervix that could develop into cancer. I believe that with successful cervical cancer screening, we can bring down the scary number of deaths linked to the disease.”
Also speaking, Dr. ChimaIjem Ikekeonwu of the National Hospital Abuja, who superintended the medical outreach on behalf of the Isabella Ayuk Foundation, said some of the symptoms of cervical cancer include abnormal bleeding per vagina after sex, copious watery foul-smelling vaginal discharge, and pelvic swelling or mass pain.
Others, according to him, include bleeding after menopause, increased vaginal discharge, pelvic pain and pain during sexual intercourse.
Dr. Ikekeonwu further explained that the implementation of organised population-based cancer screening programmes will reduce the great burden of the terminal disease that Nigeria currently bears.
He advocated a realistic approach to screening of the ailment in line with the recommendation of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).
He said, “Cervical cancer is one of the most common types of cancer of the female reproductive system. It is a disease in which cells of the cervix, the lower part of the uterus and the adjoining vagina become cancerous or malignant.
“It is usually a slow-growing kind of cancer that may not present initial symptoms, but can be detected with regular screening by Pap tests (a procedure in which cells are scraped from the cervix and viewed under a microscope) and detection of Human Papillioma Virus (HPV).”
Speaking on behalf of the beneficiaries, Mrs. Godiya Goji expressed their appreciation and urged more women to take advantage of the opportunity of the free medical outreach to present themselves for screening.