By Charles Nwaoguji
Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO) has enjoined Nigerians to embrace the culture of regular medical cancer screening as a preventive measure against the infection.
Speaking at the 2020 World Cancer Day Campaign organised by LAPO in Benin City, the Executive Director, Sabina Idowu-Osehobo expressed concern that cancer is now a major cause of mortality in Nigeria with over 100,000 persons diagnosed yearly and about 80% die even though over 80% of the disease is preventable with early detection.
Idowu-Osehobo said the organization initiated the LAPO Community Campaign for Cancer Control (LAPO -C4) project in 2016 towards preventing and mitigating cancer-related deaths in Nigeria through mass awareness creation, screening services for the detection of pre-malignant conditions and building referral linkages for the uptake of medical services. The project is being implemented in collaboration with 13 Community-Based Organizations across Lagos, Edo, Imo, Abuja and Rivers State.
She stated that LAPO has created cancer awareness amongst Five Million community members till date, screened 27,689 community members for the ailment, referred 19,893 for screening with 339 persons with health conditions referred for treatment in government-approved health facilities.
Idowu-Osehobo said stressed the need for improved access to basic cancer screening services across the country and called for the integration of cancer control services, including the inclusion of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) HPV vaccine in the routine immunisation schedule at Primary Health Care Centres as contained in the 2018 – 2020 Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP).
She advocated for a government policy backing subsidized cancer treatment for indigent individuals considering the enormous financial burden of managing the ailment in Nigeria and appealed to well-meaning individuals and corporate organizations to support LAPO in the fight against cancer in the country.
Idowu-Osehobo said LAPO believes that poverty is further reinforced by diseases and has therefore been involved in community health improvement and playing a major role in addressing the challenges of HIV/AIDS, malaria, maternal and child health issues particularly in rural communities across the country.
In 2019 alone, she said LAPO reached a total of 274,929 community members with health services, including general screening and referrals with over 976,368 persons reached with information, education and enlightenment materials, adding that “Between October 2015 and October 2019, a total of 14,413 community members benefitted from our Community Health Outreach (CHO) programmes in Edo, Oyo state and FCT, Abuja covering full medical compliments and surgery.”
In his goodwill message, the Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Patrick Okundia commended the poverty alleviation and health intervention programme of LAPO, which he said has improved the lives of the ordinary people in Nigeria.
Represented by the Edo State Director of Nursing Services, Pastor (Mrs) H.C Enunwaonye, the Health Commissioner said the Edo State Government was committed to the fight against cancer and other preventable diseases in the State.
Also speaking, the President of the Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Edo State Chapter, Dr Adesuwa Urhoghide-Edigin advised women to pay more attention to their health, noting that majority of women in this part of the world care less about their health status. She said, “routine check-up should be their utmost concern because early detection and prevention is better than treatment.”
The Chairman of Owan West Local Government Area, Mr Frank Ilaboya and the Vice President of the Conference of Non-Governmental Organisations (CONGOS), Comrade Jeffey Scott Emuokpor were among dignitaries at the rally which featured a roadshow.
The theme of the 2020 World Cancer Day is “I am and l will.”