By Hassan Zaggi
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has disclosed that the Federal Government has mapped out strategies to implement and work with all stakeholders in order actualise the intended goals of the global strategy to end cervical cancer.
He stated this at the formal of Global Strategy for the Elimination of Cancer of the uterine cervix, in Abuja, yesterday.
Ehanire said that Nigeria was among the countries that endorsed the Global Call to Action on Cervical Cancer in May, 2018, which, according to him, translated to the passage of a resolution calling for elimination of cervical cancer by 2030 and the adoption of a strategy to deliver on this objective in August, 2020.
His Ministry, Dr. Ehanire said, has taken several steps to actualise the 2030 target, recognising that despite being preventable and curable, cervical cancer is still the second most common cancer among women with the second highest death rate in Nigeria.
“In line with the targets of 90% Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) vaccination coverage, 70% screening coverage and 90% access to treatment for cervical cancer and palliative care (90:70:90), some key steps have been taken, which include the development and launch of the National Strategic Plan for the Prevention and Control of Cancer of the Cervix (2017-2021); review of the level of implementation of this Strategic Plan in June 2020 by the National Stakeholders Forum on cervical cancer prevention; constitution of a National Technical Working Group to ensure effective implementation of the Strategic Plan; and inauguration of the Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022) on October 13, 2020.
“The National Technical Working Group has a subcommittee on Cervical Cancer Prevention and Control, working to actualise the set objectives.”
The Minister further explained that: “We are working to ensure wide accessibility and availability of HPV vaccine, through the National Programme on Immunization by the year 2021.
“This will target our young girls and boys to eliminate HPV which is known to be responsible for over 70% of Cervical Cancer cases.
“Apart from our prevention strategies geared towards reducing the number of cervical cancer cases, we are currently upgrading some of our dedicated tertiary health facilities to provide advanced specialised diagnostics and treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy.”
Speaking, the Executive Director of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Faisal Shuaib, disclosed that Cancer account for the high rate of deaths seen among the Nigerian population., explaining it is currently responsible for over 72,000 deaths annually.
He revealed that Cancer accounts for more deaths than HIV, malaria and Tuberculosis combine in developing countries.
“Of all of the forms of cancer in Nigeria, cervical cancer remains the most frequently reported and the leading cause of cancer among women, yet cervical cancer is preventable.
“Cervical cancer is cause by a virus call Human Papiloma Virus (HPV) which can be prevented through vaccination of girls as well as boys. HPV vaccination of boys and girls in Nigeria can avert millions of deaths and save billions of naira in economic benefit.
“WHO assessment of return on investment has shown that every dollar invested in vaccine over a decade is estimate to result in a return of 16 times the cost of the vaccine. For this reason, HBV vaccination will only benefit Nigerians with good health, but also contribute to our economic and national development. “