The wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, has called on Nigerians to take action against the ravaging cancer disease across the world.
She made the call during the annual five-kilometre Walk Away Cancer session by Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF).
She also called on Nigerians to embark on regular check-ups and early detection of cancer to save lives.
“Cancer screening is for people without symptoms, so if you’ve noticed a change, don’t wait for screening. Tell your doctor as soon as possible,” Mrs Aisha Buhari advised.
Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Atiku-Bagudu said that in the last 13 years, the Founder of Medicare Foundation, Dr Zainab Bagudu has been advocating for cancer in Nigeria.
Mr Bagudu noted that the NGO has mobilized for cancer treatment to support and make cancer treatment available.
“So making screening, medication available at the lower level wand cancer registries which her excellency led and created also they in Kebbi the indigent fund to mobilize funds for indigent patients affected by cancer which has led to at the national level. Adoption of Catastrophic Cancer Fund which for the first time president Muhammdu Buhari and the National Assembly agreed to provide funds where eligible indigent beneficiaries will be assisted, this is again in addition to different centres that are coming up in Nigeria supported by government and private sector to put Nigeria in a comfortable situation,” Bagudu added.
The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that every step Nigerians take brings them closer to the colorectal cancer cure.
He also said that early diagnosis improves cancer outcomes by providing care at the earliest possible stage.
He said that cancer has become an important public health strategy in the country.
Meanwhile, the wife of the Governor of Kebbi State and the founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF), Mrs Zainab Bagudu, who led the five kilometres annual one million-walk away cancer, said that the walk away cancer was initiated by the MCF, nine years ago was first of all to create awareness against the deadly disease of cancer, which affects so many people worldwide and costs over 1.6 trillion dollars every year.
“We create awareness, we also raise funds, we sell merchandise we encourage multi-national companies to sponsor the walk. This Way we are able to generate funds to help indigent cancer patients in Nigeria. We also come together in such a large group to make a statement to the policymakers, to the government and even the pharmaceuticals to say that these many people are worried about cancer, and we need to do something about it. By coming together our voices are stronger.
“So in the last nine years, the call is getting louder, that means the number of people that are aware and can do something about this is getting more,” Mrs Bagudu explained.
According to her, in the nine years, the NGO has been able to see a lot of policy changes.
“I’m not saying that our work is responsible, for it but there are a lot of advocacy groups, our foundation, FLAC, project pink blue etc and many other NGOs that do a lot of good work in cancer control”. Due said.
She added that they have been able to put hands together, to press the buttons that needed to be pressed, and they have seen an increase in the number of radiotherapy units in the country.
“functioning radiotherapy units, we have seen the cost of chemotherapy come down. We have seen innovative access chemotherapy programmes.
The federal government now offers the Chemotherapy Assess Programme (CAP), so that patients can get drugs much less. Foundations like ours offer it and most importantly for the first time in the history of Nigeria a cancer health fund was created by the current administration of President Buhari, Where over 730 million Naira was set aside for the use of indigent cancer patients.
“I sit on the committee so I personally know what is happening, and it has started being disbursed in the six tertiary units that were selected to control the fund,” She added.
The Director of Clinical Services at the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr Aisha Umar, said that National Hospital was one of the cancer treatment centres that help in reducing cancer prevalence in the country.
She noted that cancer patients accounted for 40 per cent of patients that the National hospital receives and they come at different stages.
“But the problem is that they come late because of this the outcome is not the way we expect. We want people to be aware that there is a disease called cancer that can kill if we discover it late. That is why there is a need for us to let people know that there is a need to check when they are doing a routine exam so that we can find it on time. If cancer is diagnosed in the first, second stages the outcome is better, but most times we see it in the third and fourth stages and the outcome is not usually good,” she added.
A Urologist, Dr Hassan Abubakar said that there were three main risk factors when it comes to prostate cancer and they were things Nigerians cannot change.
“Getting older, having a family history of the disease and ethnicity all play a part in increasing the risk of getting it,” he said
Abubakar said that prostate cancer was the second most common cancer in men worldwide, while testicular cancer was the most common malignancy among men aged 20 to 40.
“Too many men are unaware of the health risks they face and the actions they should be taking to ensure they have the best quality of life. Patients should consider having a check-up earlier if they experience symptoms, such as an inability to urinate and pain or blood during urination, or if they are particularly at risk because of their lifestyle or family medical history,” he advised.
The event was characterised by a mixture of fanfare and physical exercise as participants who turned out in large numbers walked around some streets of the FCT chanting songs, enlightening the residents about the scourge of the disease.
Cancer is a major leading health problem with an estimated 10 million incidences and 6 million cancer deaths annually. In Nigeria, an estimated 72,000 cancer deaths occur annually, and 102,000 new cases are diagnosed from its population of 200 million people.