Mr Runcie Chidebe, the Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, an NGO, has called on the Federal Government to reactivate all the cancer control centres across the to reduce the burden this sickness posed to Nigerians.

Chidebe made this call in Abuja on Saturday while speaking with newsmen after a road walk to commemorate the 2024 World Cancer Day which is marked annually February 4.

He alleged that most of the cancer treatment centres across the geo-political zones in the country are not working, saying that there was need to put them to order if the country must show care about the sickness.

The Executive Director also alleged that there is no government own radiotherapy machine in the whole South-South zone cancer treatment centre, and that the only radiotherapy machine in the centre was owned by a private individual, adding that there was a need to close the care gap.

He commended the Federal Government for doing its best in the provision of Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for the treatment of cancer.

Chidebe said that there was a need for the Federal Government to decentralize cancer control, saying that cancer control was only left in the hands of the Federal Government.

He said that States must also take up responsibility in the protection of cancer patients, stressing that Cancer Institute should also be made available at the states the same way it is available at the center.

“We need institute at different state level, today many people are presenting themselves late for treatment and we are blaming the patient, this is not so true in some instance, but the reality is that the system needs to be rejig, the system needs to be fit in a way it can help people to present themselves early.

“We should have a situation whereby whenever a pregnant woman arrives at the hospital she should be mandated by the policy of the state and the Federal Government to receive breast examination, physical examination and by this way the screening has started.

“I am so happy to be here, I am so excited because we have people from different parts of the country to celebrate the 2024 World Cancer Day, the theme of the celebration is “Close the cancer care gap.

“The reality is that the government is doing a lot especially around the HPV vaccination which is great and commendable but there are still other gaps that exist. For instance treating cancer is so expensive and we strongly believe that we should do more to reduce the burden of cancer care.

“Some treatment facilities are currently not available so we also hope that there is enough to really close the care gap, our specific act today is that early detection saves lives, but the reality is that early detection and treatment is the one that saves lives,’’ he said.

He called on the government to include screening in the Basic Primary Health Care Provision Fund (BPHCPF) in a way that it will be a basic thing to provide screening more importantly for women, adding that thousands of women and men die of cancer yearly.

Dr Muyi Aina, Executive Director, National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) appreciated PPB for the road walk, saying that cancer is a big contributor to sickness among Nigerians.

He said that the road walk was all about making aware of what they need to do to prevent cancer, go for screening and to detect it early, while urging Nigerians to take cancer screening as priority.

Aina also urged Nigerians to get vaccinated against Cancer as Human Papillomavirus vaccine was now available at various health centres.

He advised those who are already prone to this disease to watch what they eat and that they must take vaccines that help to prevent the sickness.

Dr Zainab-Shinkafi Bagudu, the immediate Past First Lady of Kebbi State called for more increased awareness and care for those that are already with the disease.

She also called for more equity, diagnosis for Nigerians in whatever the colour, religion, adding that it is important for everyone to have access to cancer care,,

“We must bridge the gap to feed the people in the rural areas with the knowledge they need about cancer, we call on the government, stakeholder to help in providing necessary equipment for dialysis, chemotherapy and others,’’ she stressed.

Mrs Ijeoma Osuji, E-Commerce Manager, Transcorp Hilton, an organisation who has always been in support of PPB pledged to continue with the support.

“We have been a partner with PPB since 2016, supporting the cause of cancer awareness, early detection, closing the care gap and we will continue to be of support to them,’’ she said. (NAN)

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