By Gabriel Ewepu
A non-governmental organization, Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, has urged health experts to step up control and prevention of cancer in Ondo State.
This was stated by the founder and Wife of the Ondo State Governor, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, a breast cancer survivor herself, in 1997, at the BRECAN lunch meeting with all health professionals in the state at the Multipurpose Hall of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA.
Anyawu-Akeredolu while highlighting activities of BRECAN over the years maintained that the focus of its awareness campaign has always been on early detection of the disease, and encouraging government to improve on its policies and funding for effective control to curtailing its toll on the people, especially women.
She further stated that the need for more commitment by health professionals in the state was to make them know that BRECAN activities in the fight against breast cancer over 20 years has been funded by individuals who cannot do it alone.
She added that the goals of crowd funding campaigns was to sustain the project hence major players in the health sector were expected to key into the initiative so as to keep up the advocacy in all nooks and crannies of the society.
She said: “The Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, over the years has focused on awareness campaign, which is basically on early detection of the disease.
“In our advocacy we encourage government to improve on its policies and funding for effective control in order to curtail its toll on the people, especially women who are most vulnerable.1
“We have come up with the initiative of crowd funding campaigns to sustain the project. We appeal and urge major players in the health sector to key into the initiative so as to keep up the advocacy going in all nooks and crannies of the society for our people to benefit from the prevention strategy and treatment as well.
“BRECAN over 20 years has been funded by individuals who cannot do it alone in this fight against breast cancer. We are calling on more commitment from health professionals in the state for us to sustain the tempo against breast cancer ravaging the women folk.”
Meanwhile, she pledged that BRECAN will work and collaborate with relevant health professionals and development partners to ensure prevention of the dreaded and deadly disease.
She will also deliver a lecture at the Harvard University soonest as part of efforts geared towards attracting global attention on breast cancer awareness, prevention, treatment and control.
High point of the event was verbal commitment of key stakeholders to continue support the project.
The Vice Chancellor of the university, Prof Joseph Adeola Fuwape, commended her (Anyanwu-Akeredolu) on the resilient and relentless commitment shown towards raising awareness on breast cancer in Nigeria, and expressed FUTA’s readiness to partner with BRECAN towards fulfilling its mandate.
In his presentation, a Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Washington and Consultant, Ondo State Cancer Control Programme, OSCCP, Dr. Kingsley Ndoh, gave an overview of the successes so far recorded to include getting the support and delivery of equipments from foreign partners among other things, and disclosed that plans are underway to organise pathology workshops on the disease.
Ndoh also acknowledged Anyawu-Akeredolu’s commitment and the effort by the state government to build a cancer treatment centre in Ondo State, where he appealed to the Ondo State House of Assembly for appropriate legislative support on assuring the people that “cancer is no longer a death sentence.”
Also speaking was Commissioner for Health in the State, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, who pledged to incorporate training of health workers on self breast examination, and promised government’s commitment in tackling cancer disease the state.
Adegbenro used the opportunity to sensitise residents of the state to key into the health insurance scheme initiated the Akeredolu-led administration that has made it possible that under the plan unlimited access to funds for treatment of any diseases has been provided.
In her remarks, the Ondo State Chairman of BRECAN, Dr. Toyin Ayimoro, during her delivery of paper titled ‘Building Partnership with Community Gatekeepers in Cancer Awareness and Advocacy’ said synergy of health professionals remain key to reduce the occurrence of breast cancer in the state and to prevent the current rise of the disease.
Ayimoro decried paucity of funds in the state to tackle the menace therefore the need to pull resources together by stakeholders becomes imperative to stem the tide of cancer in the state.
Earlier in her paper delivered at the occasion, Dr Ndidi Okunuga, revealed that available statistics from Akure, the Ondo State capital, an average of 80 cancer cases occur annually.
Okunuga called for a comprehensive cancer control approach that would include more pathologists to attend to patients, scientists to conduct researches, and as well the establishment of standard diagnostic labs, and others.