Prof. Adewole Says Nigeria On Track Toward Eliminating Cervical Cancer

Former Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, says Nigeria is on track toward eliminating cervical

cancer with various interventions employed by the Federal Government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Commonwealth.

Adewole, who was the Minister of Health from 2015 to 2019, said this on Tuesday in a telephone interview with newsmen. He said the establishment of cancer treatment centres across the country, W.H.O’s approach to eliminating cancer globally and Commonwealth’s international task force on elimination of cervical cancer in commonwealth countries are responsible for the progress made.

He added that “what we know is that many more people are reporting in the hospitals simply because of heightened awareness and because we have established more treatment centres in the last couple of years.

Adewole also said that current statistics shows that Nigeria records about 15,000 cases of cervical cancer annually and lose about 10,500.

This, he said, translates to a case fatality of about 75 per cent or 0.7 per cent, indicating seven deaths out of every 10 cases.

He added that it was a worrisome figure as it happened to be the highest in the world as Latin America, South-East Asia and North America record a case fatality of under 0.4 per cent.

Explaining why more cases were presented in hospitals, he said it had to do with the heightened attention globally, “as everyone has now keyed into the international agenda to beam searchlight on the disease.

The former minister said that the most popular form of testing is the PAP Smear, but added that there are other more effective techniques such as visual inspection and the use of HP DNA testing.

Adewole disclosed that the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) is scheduled to start HPV vaccination in 2023, to become part of the nation’s routine immunisation.

He also said that the signing of the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) bill earlier in the year into law is a welcome development as it will ease the burden of cancer treatment on patients.

According to him, one of the basic packages of care in the schedule of the NHIA is cancer screening.

On treatment for those who have already contracted the disease, Adewole said there are quite a number of outlets to assist those who have cervical cancer in Nigeria.

He added that some Non-Government Organisations are already at the forefront of rendering help and the Federal Government also established a cancer health fund, made available if patients visit any tertiary hospital.

He said that the programme is being piloted in six tertiary facilities and that patients with cancer have started accessing support and are given a minimum of N1 million to help them with treatment.

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