World Cancer Day was founded by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to support the goals of the World Cancer Declaration, written in 2008. On 4th of February 2017 the world celebrated World Cancer Day. The main aim of celebrating World Cancer Day 2017 is to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, raise funds for cancer patients and early detectionand treatment. It was an exceptional event in Abuja as organised by Project Pink Blue, a Health and Psychological Trust Centre. February 4th was capped with a lot of activities like Walk, Race, Cycle and Marathon against Cancer, in order to encourage sports and show that physical activity significantly helps cancer patients and reduce the risks of getting cancer.
Among the participants were bikers, skaters, cancer stakeholders, comedians sand celebrities – Denrele, Koredo Bello, ghanamustgo, koboko master, Peace Emezue, and stainless. Some of the significant activities that took place were free breast screening, free cervical cancer screening and free prostate cancer screening.
The World Cancer Day 2017 Commemoration Event on 7th February kicked off with introductions of members of the high table; HRH Alhaji DR. Kabiru Ibrahim, Hon. Mohammed Usman, Deputy chair House Committee on Health Service, The National Coordinator of National Cancer Control Programme, Dr. Ramatu Hassan, DR. Bello Abubakar, Consultant Oncologist with National Hospital Abuja, Mr. Emeka Ibe and Mr. Runcie Chidebe, the Executive Director of Project Pink Blue.
There is need for government to make cancer a national priority issue, it’s important to put cancer at the front burner, the same way it was done for HIV. Cancer is the cause of 3% mortality rate in Nigeria with Liver Cancer as the second leading cancer. Incident rate is high in much developed country while mortality rate is higher in underdeveloped countries due to lack of infrastructure. This why there is needs to raise awareness and increase access to palliative care and it is on this premise that the first cancer support group will be launch in Abuja, Mr. Runcie explained in his welcome address. The group is called Abuja Breast Cancer Support Group (ABC – SG).
Hon. Mohammed Usman accompanied by other members of the high table launched the cancer support group and the group was presented with a medal of honour. This is to encourage the need for us all to do the right thing and give the right allocation to health. We are all champions if we all fight for the budget. There is need to establish agency similar to cancer, it will have its own voice and money to support and address issues of cancer.
A panel was set up with Dr. Bello as the Chief discussant, the panel are discuss on Cancer Care and Medical tourism. The Panelists were asked to highlight the factors that are causing enormous travels and possible solutions.
Medical tourism is traveling across international borders to seek medical treatment, 4% of Nigeria goes out for medical treatment. Medical travels are necessities and the factors causing this enormous travels is something that can’t be changed because of globalization. The establishment of cancer center is very important. Most people who travel abroad go private hospitals. Lack of access to drug is one of the key reasons why people go for medical travels. Most of the cancer drugs which are expensive in Nigeria are cheap outside. In places like Egypt, drugs are subsidized. Therefore, We must find a way to provide access and it is the only to minimize medical travels through providing certain facilities.
The implementation of the national health act will help make available for qualitative health service delivery. If we are able to expand enrolment, then people will find it easier to access service and it will help open more doors for accessibility. More so, training programme in clinical medical physics cannot be overemphasize, it will help get people who would legally run radiation service care.
Other factors mentioned by the panellist for this enormous medical travels are; Lack of effective synergy between the private and public sector, lack of political will. The panel session was concluded with a call to everyone to come together under one umbrella to fight against cancer.