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Nigeria loses 75,000 people to Cancer annually

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By Ndidi Chukwu

The Nigerian Medical Association has said Nigeria with a population of about 170 million, almost 100 thousand new cases of cancer occur annually while 75,000 deaths are recorded per year. The President Dr Kayode Obembe in a press statement sent by the association’s Media officer, Mr. Emeka Apka, said despite these figures there is no nationwide population-based cancer registry to help understand the epidemiology of cancer, to create effective policies and to trace progress in prevention and treatment of cancer in the Country.

Though substantial global public health burden Cancer incidence is still on the increase and the Situation is even worse in resource poor developing countries. The NMA said “annual cancer cases may rise from 14 million to 22 million within the next 2 decades” Ibadan Cancer Registry recorded 1093 cases in 2001 with a steady increase to 1576 by 2005 data recorded by Nigeria’s individual population polls. “this data still suggest that cancer incidence is on the increase” the NMA said

In Africa few exact data are available on Cancer and the data for the continent are mostly estimates. Such data are important not only to assess the size of the burden of disease, to investigate potential risk factors for cancer, to estimate    the optimum geographical distribution of resources, project expenditure and measure the effectiveness of policies for prevention and treatment.

The NMA is calling on the Nigerian government to take the lead among Africa Nations for proper documentation and polls for cancer results as recent Research indicates higher prevalence among blacks

The Scourge according to the association is traced to  disproportional high burden of infectious diseases “Nigeria is one country that faces the challenge of the so called double burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases” but insisted that Nigeria’s 2008 national cancer control plan omitted screening measures for the control of b breast and prostrate cancers.

The NMA also said it is unfortunate the processes by which the goals of this national cancer control plan are to be achieved have not been defined”

Measures to fight cancer are not mentioned in the country’s strategic health development for 2010-2015 as Health Budgets concentrate more on containing infectious diseases (Malaria, TB and HIV) “as the young and economically active segment of the population can be substantially affected by these diseases and national prosperity depends on the good health of this population group” it laments.

The Nigerian doctors also called for a functional National Cancer Registry to increase cancer awareness and create effective policies, establish and subsidize cancer Screening and cancer care, Improve Community Health Education, infrastructure by setting up more cancer /Oncology centres and advocacy on political leaders and institute policies for cancer prevention. Most of its patients present late, making survival difficult, as 30% of cancer deaths is due to behavioral and dietary risks, high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake ,physical inactivity
tobacco use, alcohol use “which are all preventable” the NMA said

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