By Oluwafunke Ishola
Lagos – An NGO, Sebeccly Cancer Care, has urged the Lagos State Government to incorporate breast and cervical cancer screening into its Maternal and Primary Healthcare programme.
Dr Okeke Awela, the care Team Lead, made the call on the sidelines of a training for primary healthcare medical personnel in Lagos.
Awela said research had found cancer to be the second most common cause of death globally in 2017
According to her, early detection and treatment of cervical cancer will increase the numbers of survivors.
She said it was imperative for government to introduce initiatives that would address cancer care, adding that many women visit Primary Healthcare Centres for child birth, family planning, immunisation and other healthcare.
Sebeccly Cancer Care, in partnership with the Lagos State Government and Aspire Coronation Trust (ACT) Foundation, will hold the ‘TimeToScreen’ for 7,000 women.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that TimeToScreen, is an initiative launched in October 2017 by Sebeccly Cancer Care to provide free breast and cervical screening and treatment of cervical abnormalities in women.
Okeke said that Sebeccly was passionate about reducing the burden of cancer and increasing the number of survivors in Nigeria.
She said that the organisation was doing this through cancer education, patient empowerment programmes, prevention/screening, treatment support, and rehabilitation services.
Okeke said that the initiative in three years had screened over 5,000 women and prevented 100 women from developing cervical cancer, thus reducing the burden of cervical cancer in Nigeria by 0.21 per cent.
She said that the TimeToScreen goal for 2019 was to screen 7,000 women in Lagos for cervical cancer free of charge, and as well build the capacity of selected medical personnel of PHCs.
Okeke said that the training would improve the knowledge of cervical cancer, screening techniques for detecting cervical cancer and the use of colposcopy and cryotherapy machine in the treatment of precancerous lesions of the cervix.
The TimeToScreen programme will hold for three months starting from Sept. 23 for women younger than 65 years old.
NAN reports that the screening and treatment exercise would hold simultaneously at Ita-Elewa Primary Healthcare Centre, Ikorodu;
Rauf Aregbesola Primary Healthcare Centre, Alimosho; and Iga-Idunganran Primary Healthcare Centre, Lagos Island.
“We are hopeful that if the government sees the impact of the exercise, they will integrate screening for breast and cervical cancer into the PHCs,” Okeke said.
She added that 26 PHC medical practitioners from the three selected centres were trained during the workshop.
Also, Dr Adaorah Momodu, Co-founder, Oncopadi.com, said that data from the screening exercise would be captured real-time from the PHCs to use in future to influence policies on cancer care and healthcare in Nigeria.
Commenting, Mrs Oluwatoyin Olatunde, Principal Nurse, Meiran PHC, said that the training and the practical session had equipped her with accurate information needed to screen and educate women on cancer prevention.
Olatunde added that if the government could equip the healthcare centres with necessary facilities needed for the screening, it would assist in early detection of cancer and referral to appropriate hospitals.