‘8,000 of 14,000 women die of breast, cervical cancer in Nigeria annually’

An Australian-based organisation, the Onyebuchi Chris Ifediora Foundation said 8,000 of the 14,000 Nigerian women diagnosed with cervical cancer were at the risk of death annually.

President of the Foundation, Prof. Chris Onyebuchi disclosed this during the flagging off ceremony of a two day workshop by the organization themed, “Arm Our Youths Heath campaign” towards eradicating cervical cancer among women.

He said the campaign in collaboration with the Anambra State Government, would target students across senior secondary schools in the country.

He said, “The beauty of the ArOY Campaign is that should this ever be the case, the campaign’s beneficiaries would we already well prepared and ready to, not only embrace these changes when they come, but to actively seek for the interventions.

“Of the roughly 14,000 Nigerian women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, just over 8,000 will die.

“This leaves families, husbands, children and a whole lot of others, devastated.

“We can either continue to accept this unfortunate trend, or perhaps, just pray over it, or worse still, ignore it, and hope that it goes away. Alternatively, we can stand, and fight,” he said.

He said a curriculum on anti-breast and anti-cervical cancer would be introduced as part of the crusade.

According to the president, implementation of the initiative had begun in Anambra with the inauguration and would be expanded to other states of the country by 2025.

He expressed the Foundation’s willingness to work with anyone, and with any group, and with all interested governmental or non-governmental bodies, to actualise a nationwide implementation of the project.

“It is a unique campaign because the program has an evaluation (research) component, which is being overseen by the Griffith University School of Medicine, Australia.

“It is unique because the ideas behind it were developed with significant input from the prestigious Harvard Medical School (Boston, USA), and has a formal endorsement from that great institution,” he added.

The state Commissioner for Basic Education and chairman of the occasion, Prof Kate Omenugha described cervical and breast cancers as “the major changes of healthcare in developing countries like Nigeria.”

She called for concerted effort to educate women of child bearing age on the symptoms of the breast and cervical cancers.

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While assuring that the state government would continue to partner the Foundation to ensure successful implementation of the campaign in the state, the Commissioner urged Nigerians to join the campaign.

In his speech, the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Charles Esimone, commended the health initiative, its focus on youths and sustainability measures.

“Anytime you want to carry out any diagnostic health experiment in the country, you must start with the youth otherwise, it fails,” he said.

“Our commitment to this project is total, complete and unemcompassing to further help take the message beyond the state,” he assured.

Esimone advised the Foundation to set up a Trust Fud to further sustain the project beyond the state.

“We have set out modalities to involve the Students Union Government and NAU Women Association to build the campaign into the orientation programme for fresh students and those going for Youth Service,” he added.

No fewer than 22 Nollywood artistes led by Ebele Okaro as well as schools’ principals, students and officials in the education sector attended the occasion.