By Onyeukwu Rowland Iheloghara

Worried by the alarming evidence-based data presented at a national conference which presents Nigeria in bad lights on rate of cancer occurrence, mortality rate and available interventions, wife of Ondo State Governor, Her Excellency, Chief Mrs Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, wants the Health Community and other stakeholders to take advantage of lobbying to make cancer a health priority in order to save Nigeria the great loss of lives from cancer cases.

Mrs Akeredolu made this call in Lagos at the ongoing Multidisciplinary Cancer Management Course, while reacting to a lecture delivered by Prof. Cosette Wheeler, of the department of pathology and obstetrics and gynecology, University of New Mexico.

Mrs Akeredolu stated that political will is the major factor needed to change the narrative and it would require serious lobbying by the key players in the health community across the nation and cancer-based NGOs to achieve it.

She further opined that it is only when cancer is made a health priority that some of the issues associated with it can be tackled.

Akeredolu however appreciated the organizers of the program, Society of Oncology and Cancer Research of Nigeria (SOCRON) for their efforts which according to her is filling the gaps created by the Nigerian Cancer Society.

Prof. Cosette Wheeler had, in her lecture titled “Implementation of Resource-Level Appropriate Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Management, revealed some worrisome facts and figures which triggered reactions from participants at event.

According to Prof. Wheeler’s evidence-based data, 14,943 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year in Nigeria and 10,403 die from the disease, representing about 70 percent of the figure.

Wheeler’s presentation further revealed that Nigeria has the highest number of new cases and the highest number of mortality rate compared to other countries of the world which according to her requires urgent action.

“Some participants at the conference identified collaborations with faith-based organizations, public education and advocacy and regular interventions as possible ways of tackling the issue.