Nigeria’s cervical cancer programme takes center stage at World Health Assembly

Minister of Health,Prof. Isaac Adewole, during the Meeting of Commonwealth Health Ministers on the Sidelines of the World Health Assembly in Geneva,Switzerland

Geneva (Health Ministry’ Report)- Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has challenged global leaders in health sector to invest in cervical cancer control.

The Minister made the call while speaking on the sidelines of the World Health Assembly at the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in Geneva, Switzerland on Sunday May 21, 2017. He called on the ministers to designate cervical cancer as a major public health challenge and to intensify efforts to attract investment in vaccines access and treatment.

The Health Minister described cervical cancer as a disease of inequity citing an International Agency for Research on Cancer Report which revealed that almost 9 out of 10 (87%) cervical cancer deaths occur in the less developed regions.

“If we do nothing, your excellences, the burden of cervical cancer will increase, by 2035 and increase of 72%, far higher than the global increase of 43%. We will also record near 50% increase in mortality.”
Adewole pointed out that the report showed that the poorest countries will suffer more from cervical cancer.

“This is a systems failure and it occurs because the systems have failed, the people have failed and we have failed everybody.”

At another event themed ‘Cervical Cancer: A Non Communicable Disease’ we can overcome, the Minister discussed his efforts, “The poor people are affected, and for me, at governmental level, we need to improve socio-economic status in the country, we need to improve well-being, we need to build a strong system. The first thing I did last year was to say we will offer free screenings to about 200,000 women across the country and this year my main mission is to screen women free of charge in Nigeria for cervical cancer. And for the first time, i have been able to put cancer prevention in my health budget, which is also significant. It is not the quantum of money that is there but the fact that i have been able to include and i know that within the next 1 or 2 years i will be able to grow that money.”

The Minister disclosed that the three main NCDs killing Nigerians include Cancer, Renal and Cardiac Problems. He disclosed that the government is currently equipping 7 centres for cancer prevention and management which he designated as ‘centres of excellence’.

“We believe that each of those centres should be able to handle surgical oncology, radiotherapy and medical oncology,” he said.

The Minister was applauded for his reforms in Nigeria and recognized for his contributions to global cancer control efforts.