As part of activities to mark World Cancer Day 2024, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has collaborated with the NNPCL Foundation to screen Nigerians for three cancers free of charge.
The two-day exercise which began on Wednesday at the Federal Medical Center, Abuja is targeted at early detection of breast and cervical cancers for women and prostate cancer for men.
The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, said at the opening that there were many benefits from early detection.
Represented by the Director, Hospital Services, Dr Salaudeen Jimoh, he said that routine screening aided early detection of cancers.
“This is because when cancers are detected early treatment outcomes are better.
“Also, those who will be found positive to any of the cancers that will be screened for, the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) will provide free treatment for them, therefore there is no need to panic.”
He explained that the fund was the money earmarked by the Federal Government to treat the three cancers, adding that the money is for the treatment of all Nigerians who are affected by any of the cancers.
He commended the foundation for sponsoring the screening, adding that the initiative would go a long way in the fight to control cancer in Nigeria.
Pate also announced the donation of a mobile cancer screening van to the hospital by the ministry with all complementary equipment attached.
This, he said, was to aid early detection of the three cancers.
The Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation Limited (NNPCL) Foundation, Mrs Emmanuella Arukwe, said cancer is a very deadly disease and knowing ones status is very important as that would aid in getting treatment early.
She said that the foundation which was the social initiative arm of the company, decided to embark on the project because cancer is one of the scourges the nation is suffering from.
“It is our pilot project and we will do other things.
“A lot of people have already done their tests and we are expecting at least 100 people to do the tests and the good thing is that the ministry has the fund to treat anyone who tests positive to any of the cancers.
“We know there is a healthcare gap in Nigeria and we are doing this as one of our projects to help bridge the gap,” she added.
The Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Prof. Saad Ahmed, said screening forms part of the things that would help identify those at risk.
He also said that the hospital had been treating cancer patients for a long time and had successfully treated quite a number of cancer patients, thereby giving it the needed experience to handle it.
He, however, called on all cancer advocates and stakeholders to put in more effort to end the cancer scourge in Nigeria.
Madam Lilian Duke, one of the beneficiaries, said she decided to screen for cervical cancer to see if she was pre-disposed to having the disease.
According to her, women should not shy away from carrying out the tests, because if they do they may die from ignorance.
“If you are shy you may die of a sickness that you would have had an opportunity of getting rid of.
“When such opportunities as this comes up people should be bold enough to come out to know their status.
“The free treatment from the CHF too is very good because ordinarily if you have something of that nature you may not be able to treat it because it is quite expensive.”
Mr David Adejoh, another beneficiary, who was there to screen for prostate cancer, said it was better to get it done as often as the opportunity presented itself because if left to chance may take one unaware.
He added that “considering that the disease does not give notice until it has reached an advance stage, early detection is important.
“Opportunities like this do not present themselves everyday and the cost of running the tests is quite high so it is better to do it to save costs.
“The CHF is one of the most beautiful news I have heard this year because I am aware that once you reach the age of 40 you are supposed to be checking your prostate.
“There are so many men out there who do not have the means to treat it and they resolve to spirituality or herbs which may not help them eventually, so the free treatment is commendable.”
BRANDPOWER reports that the World Cancer Day is an international day marked on Feb. 4, to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.
Also, between 2022 and 2024, the focus of World Cancer Day is to help “Close the cancer gap” and the theme for 2024 has “Together, we challenge those in power” as sub-theme.
This focuses on the global demand for leaders to prioritise and invest in cancer prevention and care and to do more to achieve a just and cancer-free world.