By Anayo Ezugwu
IN ITS effort to ensure that Nigerians have access to treatment of cancer, the National Cancer Prevention Programme, NCPP, an initiative of Mass Medical Mission, has launched four Mobile Cancer Centres in Lagos. The mobile centres are expected to move round the country to treat people, starting from Lagos as the pilot phase.
Abia Nzelu, project coordinator of the NGO, said the mobile centres were the first of its kind anywhere in the world to screen and treat cancer patients for free. She said cancer is a global epidemic and currently one out of every three persons would be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. According to her, Nigeria has had a significant increase in the incidence of deaths from the common cancers within four years.
She noted that in 2008 breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily; by 2012 this had risen to 40 women daily. “In 2008 prostate cancer killed 14 Nigerian men daily; by 2012 this had risen to 26 men daily. In 2008 liver cancer killed 24 Nigerians daily; by 2012 this had risen to 32 daily.
“Over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer annually, and about 80,000 die (10 deaths every hour) with a dismal survival rate of 1.5. But the good news is that most cancer deaths are preventable. According WHO, one third of cancers is preventable, another one-third is curable and the last third can have good quality of life with appropriate care,” she said.
Nzelu said the centres would improve people’s access to health facilities in the grassroots because of its cost effectiveness. “The MCC is focused on screening and treating cancer, however, it aims to have a comprehensive approach to the prevention of cancer. To prevent cancer, we need to prevent the risk factors that lead to it. For instance, liver cancer; the major risk factor is hepatitis B and C.
“By preventing hepatitis, we will be preventing 80 percent of liver cancer. So, we are having a comprehensive approach so that when we get to the community, everybody benefits maximally,” she said.
According to Nzelu, statistics has shown that Nigeria had the seventh lowest life expectancy in the world. This, she said, was due to stress and poor health maintenance culture of Nigerians. “Nigerians do not take care of their health and as a result, a lot of people die in ignorance. World Cancer Day is to create awareness about the disease so that more people will be aware and get screened.”
On his part, Kin Egwuchim, coordinator, said the MCC would benefit Nigerians who could not travel abroad for treatment. “We have four pilot mobile centres that are being launched today; we are going to have more than 37 because there are some states that have many communities.
“The MCC has facilities that can screen and treat for breast lumps, cervical cancers, colon cancers at their early stages. Every community will be reached; the aim is to reduce incidents of cancer and cancer-related diseases. A roster will be drawn to show when the MCCs will be reaching out so that members of the public will know when and where to go for screening,” he said.
Egwuchim urged the media to partner with the organisation in creating more awareness on the need for people to go for screening. He also urged well-meaning Nigerians to emulate those who had supported the cost of acquiring the MCCs. “We want people to support the organisation towards fighting the scourge of cancer in Nigeria.”
The MCC offers free screening and treatment for cancers in their early stages including prostate, cervical, breast, colon, ovarian cancers. Other screenings include diabetes, hepatitis, kidney and eye screening. The World Cancer Day is marked annually on February 4 with the 2018 theme, ‘We can. I can.’
– Feb. 5, 2018 @ 12:32 GMT |