By Chinenye Offor
Abuja – The Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, Mr Runcie Chidebe, has urged the Federal Government to declare cancer as a national emergency and establish more centres with functional for cancer management.
Chidebe made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.
He said cancer should be made a national issue in terms of awareness creation, funding and creation of more cancer screening facilities in the country to reduce deaths and long queues witnessed at screening centres.
Chidebe said that the foundation was raising more public awareness and educating policy makers on the scourge and how it could be reduced.
He described the increased rate of cancer in Nigeria as pathetic, saying the country records “over 100,000 new cases and about 72,000 deaths annually’’.
The executive director said cancer as a major public health issue for Nigeria needed to be treated as a national problem, adding that “without intervention from government the figures will increase’’
“Nigeria has all the manpower and some equipment in diagnosing cancer but we need the government to make cancer screening a national health priority.
“Late diagnosis is one of the factors that kill people; we encourage people to go for regular screening of cervical, breast and prostate cancer.
“Some cancers are preventable so we encourage people to make life style changes exercise regularly, eat more of vegetables and reduce weight if overweight,’’ he said.
Chidebe also urged the federal government to give more training to Oncologists and other healthcare providers in order to improve their capacity to work effectively.
“Without government intervention, the figures will increase; it is a major public health issue for Nigeria that needed to be treated as a national problem,’’ he said.
Ms Theodora Zita, a survivor of breast cancer, also Nigerians to get tested for cancer and stressed that early detection was key to survival.
According to her, lack of proper information and access to health screening facilities are contributory factors to the increased of deaths from the disease.
Zita also said that creating awareness was important in the fight against cancer.
“People should be informed about cancer that it is not a death sentence and starting treatment early, if diagnosed of it, also increases chance of survival.
“I encourage anyone suffering from any form of cancer to start treatment immediately.
“Stop saying it is not my portion, stop going from one prayer house to the other, you can be praying while taking the treatment,” she said.
Besides, the survivor called on stakeholders and policy makers to create more awareness on cancer to help fight the scourge.