The Nigerian Federal Government in its battle against cancer has said it will incorporate vaccines for human papilloma virus into the National Programme on Immunisation.
According to a recent report, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said the “strategy will prevent forty percent of cervical cancer,” which accounts for 17 in 100 cases of cancer reported in women.
The health minister also added that the hepatitis B vaccine will be implemented to prevent liver cancer.
The deadly disease claimed some 7.6 million people in 2008 and the World Health Organisation estimates cancer could kill some 84 million people by 2020 if preventive measures are not taken now.
“For emphasis, we need to remind ourselves of the grim statistics of the morbidity arising from the cancer scourge,” said the minister.
Incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria has risen 100% in the last ten years, compared with only a 25% increase in the previous decade, according to data from the Institute of Human Virology of Nigeria, and still accounts for four in every 10 cancers in women.
Cancer of the ovaries account for 3.7% of cases. Cancer of the lymph nodes and skin account for the lowest incidence–at 3% and 2% respectively. In men, lymphoma accounts for 6.8% of cases while skin cancer makes up 3.8%, slightly higher than for women.
Government, working with local and international agencies, has successfully upgraded three cancer screening centers in efforts to “reduce the cancer burden,” Chukwu said.
Nigeria has also paid $9 million in counterpart funding in a technical partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency to upgrade radiotherapy and nuclear medicine facilities in ten teaching hospitals around the country by 2015, according to the health minister, a report stated.
Health activists like Dr. Patience Osinubi, head of Cancer Control Programme at the federal health ministry, have called for cancer screening, like HIV/AIDS testing to be free as cost still hinders individuals from getting tested and seeking help early.
“If you don’t come out and participate in the free cancer screening, then you really have yourself to blame,” she noted.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, yesterday, said it would construct 10 new cancer centres across the country in 2012, in order to curb the spread of cancer in Africa’s most populous nation.