African First Ladies restate commitment to fight against cancer




She also said that the Federal Government had procured and distributed diagnostic and therapeutic equipment to 12 federal hospitals, as part of its designed efforts to tackle the menace of cervical cancer. [eap_ad_1] “For the first time in Africa, Nigeria has also introduced residency training in Clinical Medical Physics in 2012 for cancer care enhancement.

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“The training programme stemmed from our technical cooperation with International Atomic Energy Agency and we are also collaborating with the agency to procure radiotherapy and nuclear medicine equipment for 10 of our hospitals,’’ she said.

Jonathan stressed that two hospitals — the National Hospital, Abuja and University College Hospital, Ibadan — currently offered nuclear medicine diagnosis and treatment of cancers.

She said that efforts were underway to increase the number of hospitals that were capable of providing nuclear medicine services to 10 by 2016.

She said that subsequently, the country’s hospitals with radiation therapy facilities would be increased to 11.

The first lady, however, solicited improved access to HPV vaccine for girls between the ages of nine and 15 years, adding that the screening for cervical cancer should also be done at an early age.

Besides, Jonathan advocated health education for adolescents and young adults on factors relating to cervical cancer

She particularly underscored the need for women to undergo cervical cancer screening via affordable procedures of visual inspection with acetic acid and the Pap smear.

She also stressed the need to urgently address the issue of expanding the women’s access to cervical cancer prevention and treatment in Africa.

Moreover, Jonathan drummed support for the inclusion of cancer screening into regular family planning and maternal health services.

She also wanted increased public awareness, improved access to family planning, as well as pre- and post-screening counselling to prepare women for the outcome of cancer screening.

She, nonetheless, bemoaned the growing deaths of women due to the late presentation of cancer sufferers to the hospital for diagnosis and treatment.

Dr Margret Chan, the WHO Director-General, in her goodwill message, said that cancer was an important area in the field of life.

She noted that the input of the African first ladies in the fight against cancer had particularly increased the public awareness of cancer on the continent.

Chan, however, emphasised that without the integration of cancer management procedures into family health schemes, “we cannot attain the goal of dealing with the menace of cancer.’’

Nevertheless, Dr Ademola Olajide, the UN Fund for Population (UNFPA) Representative, who spoke on the gender perspectives and cancer in Africa, said that African women had limited capacity to negotiate condom use.

He added that women also had limited financial access to female condom; hence they became more vulnerable to sexually transmitted infections.

Olajide noted that there were still several societal practices in Africa which promoted multiple sex partners, wife inheritance, gender-based violence and lots of things that made women vulnerable to HIV infections.

He said that the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) also made the women vulnerable to cancer of the cervix.

“Their vulnerability is not only as a result of health issues but also the social structures which we have put in place,’’ he said.

Olajide said that native common sense and African intelligence assumed that one ought to have a breast before contracting cancer, prostate before having prostate cancer and cervix before contracting cervical cancer.

“How many men know that they have prostate cancer; if you look at how we have socialised our society and organised our health systems and programmes.

“We see the vulnerability of men and women to various cancers as a consequence of their socialisation,’’ he said.

Olajide appealed to governments of African countries to sufficiently fund cancer-control programmes and put in place functional plans to prevent the disease, while providing treatment and care for patients.

Also speaking, Mrs Penehupifo Pohamba, the Namibian First Lady, said that she was delighted to note that Africans were increasingly bracing up to the challenges posed by cancer.

She said that the meeting of the first ladies would enable them to learn from each other, while adopting best practices in their plans to promote the people’s development and welfare.

“We will also ensure that the people we are assisting through our national and international strategies will be better off; having created platforms such as this to find solutions to global problems within our own African context,’’ Pohamba said.



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