From Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
The University of Ibadan Alumni Association (UIAA) Wordwide is set to establish a N2 billion world-class cancer diagnostic centre in Nigeria towards reducung the high burden of cancer in the country.
President of the UIAA Prof Elsie Adewoye made the disclosure at a press conference held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, geared towards creating awareness that cancer can be treated and cured, if it is detected early and presented for treatment at the early stage. She added that the association was also ready to partner with news media to achieve the objectives.
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She stated that the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 made revealing findings on cancer, saying “the study showed that the deaths due to cancer treated illnesses rose by 17 per cent between 2005 and 2015. It is projected that by 2030, new diagnoses cases would have risen by 68 per cent to 23.7 million. it further estimated that cancer causes 8.8million deaths (one in every six deaths) globally in 2015 and cost the world in 2010, the best part of US$1.16trillion.
Adewoye, who said the facility would be sites at the first teaching hospital in Nigeria, the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Oyo State, explained: “The essence of this world press conference is to draw public awareness to the growing incidence of cancer in our clime, and also to enlist the support of all public spirited persons, organisations, institutions, agencies, commissions, churches and so on to join hands with UIAA to find an acceptable and realistic solution to this health problem.
“The burden of cancer in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is large and growing. It remains a challenge with a continuous increase in prevalence not only across Nigeria, but many countries, especially in the Low and Medium Income Countries (LMIC).
“In 2020, according to Prof Isaac Adewole, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan and also former Minister of Health of Federal Republic of Nigeria, cancer was responsible for 79,000 deaths in Nigeria, with new cases estimated at 125,000 annually. Data available reveal that the five most prevalent cancers in the country are breast, prostate, cervical, colorectum, and lymphoma; out of these, breast and cervical cancers were singled out as being responsible for 32.4 per cent of all cancer cases in Nigeria.
“The pattern of cancer disease in the country shows high mortality and incidence ratio when compared to most of the High Income Countries(HIC) with the ratio of deaths resulting from breast cancer in America at 19 per cent, compared to 51 per cent in Nigeria.”
She stated that other notable and critical issues that have been adduced for the growing rise of the illness in Nigeria are cost implications of treatment, fear to speak out by victims, lack of access to medical facilities, near absence of oncology and diagnostic centres in the country, lack of the study of oncology in our universities and the absence of a clear cut scientific explanation for the causes of cancer.
“To ameliorate the situation, the UIAA has decided to establish a N2 billion Cancer Diagnostic Centre at the University College Hospital , Ibadan. This initiative, in our estimation, deserves the support of all.prople of goodwill, critical stakeholders in the health sector in Nigeria, and hopefully beyond. Our appeal for partnership with the news media is for the purpose of advocacy in order to create the necessary public awareness on preventive measures of the illness,” Adewoye stated.
Prof Adeniyi Adenipekun of the Department of Radiation and Oncology, UCH, who represented the Chief Medical Director of the teaching hospital, Prof Jesse Otegbayo, said 70 to 80 percent of cancer cases are being presented to hospitals at late stages, when treatment and cure are almost impossible, saying the diagnostic aspect of cancer treatent is not robust enough in the country. He added that a project like the proposed cancer diagnostic centre by UIAA would help people to quickly access diagnosis. “Early detection,” he said, “will now be a common occurrence, unlike what we have right now.
“Late presentations may be as a result of denials, finances and so on. But what the UIAA is doing is timely and in collaboration with UCH, the diagnostic centre, which I know, they will make it so accessible and affordable because I am sure the alumni are not going after profit, or primarily to commecialise. They want to help the populace.
“So, if we have a means of having a diagnosis that is well subsidised, and people are coming out to get tested and they are getting their diagnosis, then the cure rate will go up. The idea that you have cancer and you die is not really so. It is happening because patients come late. If you come early, the story will.change. we have a lot of survivors, who are still doing fine 25 years after.”