Cancer epidemic kicked out of Nigeria
BY SUNDAY IMONITIE
At last, the end of Cancer epidemic seems to be in sight as all the states
of federation have began aggressive grassroot campaigns to stem the tide
of this health problem.
On a brilliant sunny day, late last year, Hajiya Aisha Shinkafi, wife of
Zamfara State governor gathered top health professionals in the country
at the Garki General Hospital, Abuja to launch a cancer scheme, called‘Zamfara Well Woman Project’ which is specially designed for women in the
grassroot level of the fourteen local government areas of Zamfara state,
who ordinarily do not have access to hospitals neither are they aware of
their physical changes.
This health project was branded in pink colour, while the logo design,
suggests medical rescue. As such, pink was the colour of the beautifully
decorated venue. The programme was targeted at enlightenment, screening
and treatment of cancer related cases.
In her address, the Zamfara First Lady, Hajiya Aisha Shinkafi, pointed out
that her mission is “ to tailor enlightenment towards women who are above
forty years of age. Since statistics shows that 70% of cancer cases in
women occur from that age.”
According to surveys, only 8% of women examine their breasts on a regular
basis, while around 20% do self-examination only once a year. 75% of women
said they were not sure what they had to look for when to examine their
breasts; 80% of lumps in the breast may not be cancer, but any changes
should be checked out by a health professional.
Hajiya Aisha Shinkafi observed that: “The Zamfara Well Women project, will
enable women to know when to check their breast. It is best to check
breasts when they are least painful, usually seven to ten days after the
start of menstrual period. Women who do not have regular periods, who have
entered menopause, or those who are pregnant can examine their breasts at
any time during the month, while breastfeeding mother should check their
breasts after feeding the baby.”
Afterwards, Hajiya Aisha Shinkafi, officially launched the Zamfara Well
Women project to declare open the breast screening exercise for women of
Zamfara state who had gathered in their dozens, to take part in the
exercise. At this point, the first lady requested for a minute silence,
for one of the Zamfara state ladies, who had also come for the screening
but unfortunately, gave up the ghost, because the disease had long
Hajiya Aisha Shinkafi, later used the platform to stress the importance of
cancer screening exercise for women. Promising that, part of her program,
is to ensure breast screening centres in each local government in Zamfara
state which will work on a 5 point screening code.
Asked why a Zamfara state project should be launched in Abuja, the First
Lady said that she had anticipated such a question, that the answer is
simply because, there are presently no screening centres in Zamfara state.“Moreover, Abuja presently, is where the collection of most of the medical
support facilities and personnel that we presently need for the initial
launch of the program.” She was quick to add that the Zamfara women should
be rest assured, as she will soon move all that is necessary for the
success of the program, soonest to Zamfara state as well as build a breast
cancer research centre in the state.
The Medical Director of Garki general hospital Dr. Ibrahim Wada, speaking
at the event quoted a verse of the Quran where Allah said that, “whosoever
safe one human life, will be likened to the one who has saved the whole of
Dr. Wada commended the First Lady of Zamfara state that, “…it is good and
obvious that you do not want the citizens of your state to die of cancer.
You want them to be able to detect cancer early in order to prevent it and
safe themselves possible early death. The creator of the heaven will
reward you. He pledged the support of the hospital wherever possible, for
the Zamfara Well Woman project.
In a key note address, the out-going president of the Medical Woman
Association of Nigeria, F.C.T. chapter, indicated that while matters
affecting women and children are today incorporated in the millennium
development goals, the this project will reach out to the grassroots, to
mobilize and sensitize a largely unemployed and non-empowered women and
interestingly too, will touch lives in neighbouring states of Kebbi and
Sokoto as well as bring in facilitators from Egypt and India. She pledged
her associations support and readiness to collaborate with manpower, to
see to the success of the programme.
To Mrs. U. Mbanaso, a senior official of the Federal Ministry of Health in
the cancer control unit, “the event is indeed an epoch making one: that
which will ensure that breast cancer in women, become a thing of the
Catrien De Wijkerslooth of the World Health Organization (WHO), who spoke
last, said that, “In the very short time, I have known her (the First
Lady), I have noticed that she is a very purposeful woman who once focused
on a matter, ensures the positive conclusion of it. So, ’am sure of the
success of this Zamfara Well Woman project.”
Hajiya Shinkafi, in company of the ex-First Lady of Zamfara state, Hajiya
Farida Yakubu and others, carried out a tour of the Garki General
Hospital, just as the breast screening exercise commenced for the Zamfara
women. Interpretation in local languages also took place during the event
for the purpose of women from the grass root, while Mallam Sani Adam, an
Islamic scholar from Kaduna, was on hand to enlighten the women on the
Islamic perspective of health caring of the body.
SUNDAY IMONITIE, is a seasoned journalist in Nigeria.
He can be reached on:2348099625822