Ministers of Health and Women Affairs commemorate 2019 Breast and Cervical Awareness Month

Dr. Osagie Ehanire
The Honorable Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, delivering his speech during the commemoration of the 2019 Breast and cervical cancer Screening and awareness month, in Abuja.

The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Ministry of Women Affairs has commemorated the 2019 Breast and cervical cancer Screening and awareness month, theme: “I am and I will” recently, in Abuja.

The event is marked annually, from 1st – 31st October with the sole aim of creating awareness and sensitizing the populace on breast and cervical cancer, to promote prevention, early health seeking behavior and better prognosis/outcome where treatment is required.

Flagging off the event, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, regretted that breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in the world with an estimated 1.67 million new cases diagnosed in 2012 (25% of all cancers) while cervical cancer is the fourth with an estimated 528,000 new cases in 2012.

Of this, the Minister said a greater percentage occur in less developed countries like Nigeria (Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan, 2018-2022). Of the new reported cases of cancer, breast and cervical account for more than 50% and cervical cancer is responsible for the incidence of about 27.2/100,000, Ehanire explained.

He also stated that an  estimate of about 15 thousand (14,943) cases diagnosed annually with late presentation at health facility causing death of about 8000 women annually  is reported in  Nigeria (Globocan 2018).

The Minister attributed these poor indices to: lack of awareness, late presentation, poor health seeking behavior, financial constraints, inadequate experts to manage the disease and insufficient/inadequately equipped cancer managing centers, etc.

To reverse the trend, Ehanire informed that government is responding to the challenge through various measures, among which are: the Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan, 2018-2022, which was developed and launched in 2018 to guide all cancer activities in the nation, the National Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of Cervical cancer management specifically, Seven (7) Federal Teaching hospitals have been designated Oncology Centers of Excellence and are being upgraded with State-of-the art equipment/machines to manage all types of cancers.

Also speaking, the Minister of Women Affairs, Dame Pauline Tallen, said the Ministry is committed to improving the social health status of women, girls and children through advocacy and social mobilization.

In her words, “We have been partnering with relevant MDAs, NGOs as well as Development partners in the development of programmes and projects aimed at enhancing the health status of women. Our National Gender Policy is also targeted at improving the health status of women.”

She added that there is need to track various efforts, measures and policies, with a view to identifying gaps and recommend appropriate strategies; embrace a collective strategy at addressing the cancer problem including a multi-sectorial approach to improved reproductive and other health challenges.

In her optimism, she stressed that effective knowledge and early detection of cancer would reduce the incidences of death amongst women and girls including men. We all have to be committed to our health and promote good healthy behavior, she advised.

Dignitaries at the event were, the wife of Kebbi State Governor and founder, MedicAid Foundation, Dr. Mrs. Zainab Bagudu, the Chief Medical Directors (CMDs) of National Hospital, Abuja and Federal Medical Centre, Jabbi, Dr. Jaff Momoh and Dr. Mrs. Chinwe Igwilo, respectively and  Assistant Secretary General and UN women Deputy Executive Director, Asa Regner, amongst others.

Enefaa Bob-Manuel
Head, Media and Public Relations