Okoye, who is likewise the creator, Breast Without Spot (BWS), a non-governmental organisation (NGO), in this interview with CHUKWUMA MUANYA explains why Nigeria has one of the highest cancer cases and deaths globally. She, however, made recommendations on how to minimize the increasing cancer cases and deaths in the country.
Why are we recording more cancer cases and deaths worldwide?
Predictably, the circumstance is worsening. In the past years, the federal government showed some dedication in making more cancer screening and treatment centers available. The extraordinary pandemic has actually resulted in, perhaps diversion of funds (not validated by any evidence), and other offered resources, to COVID-19 screening and treatment.
In the very first wave, some hospitals such as Asokoro District Health center were devoted exclusively to seclusion and treatment of COVID-19 clients.
In addition, some healthcare facility oncology practices needed to take a chance in triaging their cancer clients to minimize the risk of them being exposed to COVID-19, if allowed to still make their regular routine visits needed for follow up with either their chemotherapy or radiotherapy management. Those patients requiring surgical interventions were shelved for a while, as health centers fought to acquaint themselves with developing a balance in between exposing Health care Workers (HCWs) to unidentifiable cancer client with the double jeopardy of having COVID-19
Hence, medical facility theaters were shutdown, other than for emergency situations, even that with a great deal of apprehension, as the test kits utilized in those earlier months were not the quick Polymerase Domino effect (PCR) screening services. Thus, even emergencies had to cool their heels to await confirmation of their status. This protocol mostly prevailed, unless in healthcare facility facilities where the HCWs had a death dream or chose to stand with the conspiracy theory that there was no COVID-19
What is the most recent statistics on cancer cases, deaths and morbidity in Nigeria?
Cancer is a leading reason for morbidity and mortality internationally and has become a disease of public health issue. The international circulation of predominant cancers has continued to change particularly in developing countries. While the low and middle-income nations accounted for 51 per cent of all cancers worldwide in 1975, the percentage increased to 55 percent in 2007 and to 70 percent in2018 It is needed for all hands to be on deck to put an end to this unsightly pattern.
Information from the Cancer Pc registries throughout the country as reported by the Nigeria National System of Cancer Registries (NSCR) has been really beneficial in the formulation of evidence-based cancer control policies and programs. The activities of NSCR have actually enhanced cancer research in Nigeria and have been a reliable source of epidemiological data from Nigeria to Globacan, the worldwide Cancer research study agency.
Cancer in Nigeria 2009-2016, which is the 2nd edition of the publications of NSCR, offers cancer data from 18 Cancer Computer registries throughout the nation including the National Cancer occurrence, which was derived from six population-based Cancer Computer system registries nationwide (Abuja, Calabar, Edo, Enugu, Ekiti and Sokoto). It likewise offers info on the occurrence of cancers from various areas of the nation, in addition to the commonest cancers in Nigeria both by websites and by sex. This book likewise supplies detailed history of cancer registration in the country including the successes and the obstacles associated with cancer registration and possible ways of mitigating them.
We are yet to gather current data; we are still formally using the information as at 2018, which was the Globocan forecast from 2013/2014 publication (source for above view is from Hon Minister of Health, speech at 2020, International Cancer Week, in October @ Abuja)
Can cancer be prevented or rather avoided?
It may not be possible to completely avoid cancer, but there is a lot we can do to lower the threat of getting some cancers and detecting them early through regular screening. And for cervical cancer, fortunately, there is offered and accessible efficacious vaccination (HPV: Human Papilloma Virus, Vaccine) that easily accomplishes primary avoidance!
To improve early detection, we need to put the following in place: community advocacy/mobilisation (planned and annually rostered and sustained; and awareness projects. More effort should be concentrated on screening programs, and imperatively, the frequently forgotten requirement of offering training/capacity structure of health employees, particularly, community health workers and nurses who act as primary contacts for women in rural areas.
What are your recommendations on how finest to stop cancer?
Our strong recommendation is for a shift of focus from ‘sick-care’, to ‘preventive care’, with attention to lifestyle modifications and control of toxic wastes/ food additives/sharp practices in food production and manufacture and gating of the window period between our farms and the marketplace puts that distribute food to the customers (end users of food products)
What are these, ecological pollutants/food additives/sharp practices in food production and make?
Poor handling of refuse disposal, such that both naturally degradable and non bio-degradable are left to cause a lot of putrefaction fumes, and release of harmful bio-wastes that can contaminate likewise our drinking water sources, offered to both humans and livestock!
Vehicular fumes and commercial fumes contribute seriously to ecological air pollution in Nigeria. In 2015, the World Bank reported that 94 per cent of the population in Nigeria is exposed to air contamination levels that exceed WHO guidelines (compared to 72 per cent on average in Sub-Saharan Africa in basic) and air pollution damage expenses about one per cent post of Gross National Income (2015)! Ecological pollution contributes up to 80 percent to risk factors for cancer! Some mining areas like Jos, they mine tin, lead and iron ore; coal in Enugu and so on. These are all emitters that have implicated carcinogenic effects, frequently by direct exposure or contaminants of drinking water.
Food additives/sharp practices in food production and manufacture and dealing with! Examples are ripening representatives like carbide used by sellers of fruits to ripen fruits such as banana, pawpaw, mangoes, and so on. Food colouring to redden stews, palm oil, food enhancers with bleaching and carcinogenic properties, including MSG (monosodium Glutamate), cubed and powdered enhancers, sweeteners with Aspartame, unchecked use of insecticides/pesticides to de-weevil grains and antibiotics, hormones in poultry and fish farming, de-furring of livestock, sheep and goats with kerosene and tires (and so lots of others).
How can Nigerians minimize the possibilities of developing and dying from cancers?
We suggest more vigilant oversight and legislature for stringent punitive measures. Embracement of much better health looking for practices, routine medical check ups to screen for Non Contagious Illness (NCDs), suggestions on sedentary lifestyle and diet plan which is essentially manipulated to three quarter vegetables and fruits during one quarter shared between the carbohydrates and protein source.
To ingest more wholesome complex and natural carbohydrates rather than the more processed starch items they order to be connected with being informed and bourgeoisie.
Promotion of understanding more how the body work, so individuals can pay close attention to their bodies and alert their healthcare providers as soon as they observe any unusual modifications.
Routine screening: For breast cancer, they should practice regular ‘self-breast assessment 2 to 3 days after their period. While they can get immunized against the HPV which causes cervical cancer, (between ages 9-14, and approximately 26), and guarantee regular screening with HPV testing or Pap’s Smear, or Visual Inspection Techniques with Colposcopy.
A Pap smear, also called a Pap test, is a treatment to test for cervical cancer in ladies. In addition, they ought to practice general preventive procedures such as eating healthy and wholesome meals, maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, prevent smoking cigarettes, drinking alcoholic drinks or sweet drinks exceedingly and unneeded exposure to radiation, direct exposure to commercial and environmental contaminants, such as asbestos fibers, benzene, aromatic amines, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) need to likewise be avoided.
Additionally, in terms of enduring cancer, patients can join assistance groups that make up of individuals who also have a comparable condition, so they can support themselves and lend their voices as the style of this year’s World Cancer Day (WCD), recommends: I am and I will! To sum up, the secret to decreasing the number of deaths emerging from cancers is early detection and improved access to treatment.
Cancers like prostate, breast and cervical cancers (being acknowledged by the Federal government to be the 3 most widespread cancers in Nigeria), have a much better diagnosis when they are spotted early. And for cervical cancer, with vaccination and vigilant screening, no woman requires to pass away from cervical cancer.
How about the quagmire of early detection without supporting facilities for care and paying for management?
Little marvels that Nigeria has one of the worst cancer death stats worldwide and in Africa.
These problems, inclusive of an available, accessible and budget-friendly medical insurance plan, need to be resolved for a reduction in the number of deaths, ‘survivor population’ or individuals coping with cancer.
What is the impact of air pollution on the burden of cancer in Nigeria?
Air pollution leaves our lungs in an irreversible state of swelling and could possibly increase risk of coming down with serious complications of COVID-19 In a CNN interview, Dr. Maria Neira, WHO Director, Department of Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, believed: ‘The contributing elements to contamination are a dependence on utilizing strong fuels for cooking, burning waste and traffic pollution from older cars and trucks.’
In your home, due to unreliable electrical energy materials, lots of Nigerians depend on generators, which spew out toxic fumes, often in unventilated areas. On the street, vehicle emissions go uncontrolled.
There is no serious roadworthiness oversight of lorries in Nigeria, and the little there is owners bribe their way throughout regulators.
Neira included: “In Africa, regrettably, the levels of pollution are increasing since of fast economic advancement and market without the ideal innovation.”
Even those dealing with paint, etc, without any protection for their workers incline them to cancers.
So what are you doing to reverse the circumstance?
Our Non Governmental Organisation (NGO), Breast Without Area (BWS) focus for 2021 is to add to the international call for cervical cancer elimination in Nigeria. We intend to do this by providing online aid desk complemented by a ‘BWS NGO’ dedicated App custom-made built to efficiently navigate females who through our media jingle advocacy, want to react to the call to: get vaccinated and get screened for early detection of cervical cancer. Planning and execution are about 65 percent achieved, and it had been our target to introduce this BWS ‘jingle/help -desk’ cervical cancer elimination programme and present on this 2021 World Cancer Day, however alas, our Secret Performance Indicators (KPIs), disappointed our expectations, due to some logistics constraints, resulting from the unanticipated second wave of COVID-19! Our brand-new remove, is March/April 2021!
How does BWS help cancer clients to endure?
BWS’ primary strength is leading Go Pink Campaigns, which earned her founder the alias name of Pink Prof. Hence our mass advocacy projects such as: the annual October 5, ‘Nationwide Go Pink Day’ set up given that 2015; and cancer client treatment fund’ to help indigent patients pay their expenses (since 2018).
There is likewise the BWS cancer prevention advocacy with NYSC army of supporters that play the role of distributing cancer control details throughout the 774 City Government Locations (LGAs) in the country (as our target with an accompanying training handbook for the supporters, set up because 2009.
We also have BWS community screening outreaches. BWS has the structure/infrastructure, to motivate/community mobilise,/ screen as much as 5,000 to 10,000 ladies and guys and to immunize and to treat pre-malignant cervical sore in any community in Nigeria! Previous clients are State governments, humanitarian organisations, other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and Faith Based Organisations (FBOs). This is one of BWS strongest backbones.
There is likewise BWS well being and lifestyle assessment and master classes; capability structure screening; abilities transfer hands-on workshops; biomedical research study and medical trials; and innovation of the International Cancer Week in Nigeria, by BWS creator, which is presently a Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) driven yearly event in Nigeria.
Are there cures for cancer?
There are numerous medications offered with various phases of the tumour biology to see if treatment can be achieved. Some Nigerian bench scientists have some prospect products that from their research studies suggest prospective to treat cancers.
Our recommendations are that Nigerian federal government ought to henceforth be proactive in offering funds for clinical trials, to take the bench research studies through to the bedside and to the marketplace location.
How to decrease cancer cases, deaths in Nigeria, by Okoye
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