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Cancer epidemic kicked out of Nigeria


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 overwhelmed her.

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 mankind.”


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 past.”

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


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