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Public awareness will improve cancer survival

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By Abiodun Okunloye

Awareness and sensitization will improve cancer detection rates, says IHVN.

The Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria (IHVN) has recommended that educating the general public on cancer symptoms and risk factors, such as diet and lifestyle, could improve cancer detection rates and extension of life expectancy. Dr. Patrick Dakum, CEO of IHVN, made the disclosure at an awareness and sensitization programme in Abuja in honour of World Cancer Day 2023, which was hosted by the International Research Centre of Excellence (IRCE) at IHVN in collaboration with Medicaid Radio-Diagnostics/Medicaid Cancer Foundation. The Director of Prevention Care and Treatment, IHVN, Dr. Helen Omuh, who spoke on behalf of Dr. Dakum, suggested that this might be because early signs are frequently vague or ambiguous.

Over 72,000 people die from cancer each year, and the projected five-year cancer prevalence is 233,911 cases, with 102,000 new cases each year. The inability to obtain the best care contributes to more than 70% of cancer deaths. The goal of IHVN is to ensure that people and communities have equal access to high-quality care and treatment; therefore, this year’s theme, “Close the Care Gap,” resonates with that goal. According to Dr. Dakum, the Institute supports around 374,000 people living with HIV (PLHIV), and between 40 to 50 percent of them are women (who have a six-fold risk of developing cervical cancer). He said they ranged in age from 25 to 49, and IHVN is increasing the screening for cervical cancer amongst women.

Nigerians should know cancer symptoms and get medical care when needed.

Dr. Adamu Umar, the President of the Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS), also stressed the importance of early diagnosis while dealing with less curable forms of cancer. The time between diagnosis and death is typically shockingly short compared to even more survivable because of the difficulty or impossibility of treating these cancers at later stages. The essential thing, he said, is for all Nigerians to know the symptoms and to get medical care as soon as possible if they notice any of them. He emphasized the significance of acting quickly to get medical attention if something seemed wrong.

Furthermore, Ms. Paulette Ibeka, who is the Program Manager for the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), gave a presentation on the Cancer Patients Supported Initiative in Nigeria. According to Ms. Ibeka, CHAI is broadening its product portfolio in a way that is consistent with the essential medicines list maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO). She stated that CHAI would continue to support the initiative in a technical, monetary, and in any other way possible manner to guarantee that the government reaches its aim of eradicating all types of cancer and providing access to treatment of high quality for all Nigerians.

Over 110 Health care personnel were trained to provide health services.

According to Dr. Victoria Igbinomwanhia, Senior Program Officer at IHVN, over 110 Health care personnel and IHVN personnel were trained in screening utilizing Visual Examinations with acetic acid in June 2020, marking the beginning of the cervical cancer screening program in IHVN. Women living with HIV (WLHIV) who range from the ages of 25 and 49 and that are not pregnant have access to cervical cancer screenings at about 114 locations in four different states. Eligible Women Living with HIV (WLHIV) can receive screening services as they wait for their turn at the ART clinic, she explained, making the screening process seamless within the clinic’s overall workflow.

Dr. Igbinomwanhia added that outreach activities were also carried out at some targeted non-activated facilities, and a few were currently being activated. All eligible WLHIV who have been screened receive pre and post screening counselling and are provided with results thereafter. All identified with pre-cancerous lesions are treated with the thermo-ablation machine. Suspected cases of cancer are referred for further management, she said. According to report, over 100 free pap smears and prostrate tests/exercises were conducted at the event.

IHVN aims to bridge the shortfall in cancer treatment provision.

Moreover, Dakum revealed that over 17,000 HIV-positive women were examined between October 2021 and September 2022. 4 percent of these people were found to have pre-cancerous lesions, which were then treated, and 1 percent of those that have suspected cancer cases have been led to them being referred to hospitals to receive treatment. He stated that cancer is a significant problem all over the world and that the IHVN will maintain its efforts toward closing the care shortfall for cancer prevention, concern, and treatment in the country.

Related Link

IHVN: Website

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