The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, says Nigeria is taking steps to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030.
Ehanire said this on Tuesday in Abuja during the global launch to eliminate cervical cancer.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Nigeria is one of the countries that endorsed the Global Call to Action on Cervical Cancer in May 2018.
This translated into the passage of a resolution calling for elimination of cervical cancer by 2030 and the adoption of a strategy to deliver on the objective in August, 2020.
Ehanire said the ministry recognised the role of prevention strategies in the elimination of cervical cancer, adding that this informed the collaboration with the Clinton Health Access Initiative.
The initiative, he said, was to implement a UNITAID-funded Secondary Prevention of Cervical Cancer project with awareness, screening and “see and treat” precancerous lesions of 430,000 women in Kaduna, Lagos and Rivers states in the pilot phase.
He said: “This programme has kicked off with training of different categories of health care workers to provide the required workforce in the three states.
“We are working to ensure wide accessibility and availability of Human Papilloma Virus vaccine by 2021.
“This will target our young girls and boys to eliminate Human Papilloma Virus which is known to be responsible for over 70 percent of Cervical Cancer cases.”
The Minister noted that prevention strategies were geared toward reducing the number of cervical cancer cases.
The Ministry, he added, was currently upgrading some of the dedicated tertiary health facilities to provide advanced specialised diagnostics and treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
He disclosed that the development of a National Hospice and Palliative Care policy to address palliative care needs of patients would be launched in the first quarter of 2021.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Health, Olorunnimbe Mamora, said the ministry was expanding access to cancer care services across the country.
According to the minister, Nigeria is strongly committed to achieving WHO’s global target of 90 per cent coverage of HPV vaccination of girls, 70 per cent coverage of screening and 90 percent treatment of cervical cancer by 2030.
In his speech, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, Executive Director/CEO, National Primary Health Care Development Agency, said he was excited to be witnessing the historic formal launch of the Global Strategy for Elimination of Cervical Cancer.
Shuaib said it was a great opportunity to save women and girls from preventable cancer that had been a public health concern.
He said: “As a physician and ED/CEO NPHCDA, my team and I have spent the greater part of our career working to eradicate diseases of public health concern by improving vaccination uptake through health education and community engagement in order to control preventable diseases.
“Recently, Nigeria was certified polio free.
“In the Polio Eradication Initiative through the EOCs, we focused on the highest-priority interventions while improving coordination and managing the programme’s overall performance with the use of accountability and cutting-edge technology.
“This remains a major gain to Nigeria’s health system.
“The centralised command-and-control units adequately prepared and allowed us to manage disease outbreaks.”
Shuaib said the agency was able to plan and execute effective vaccination campaigns with heightened public awareness and result-focused performance management in the fight against polio.
He disclosed that cancer accounts for the high rate of deaths among Nigerians, adding that more than 72,000 people die annually as a result of the ailment.
He said: “Cancer accounts for more deaths than malaria, HIV and tuberculosis combined in developing countries.
“Of all the different forms of cancers in Nigeria, cervical cancer remains the most frequently reported and the leading cause of cancer death among women. Yet, cervical cancer is preventable.
“In Nigeria, women play critical role in supporting families and building our community.
“Women also contribute immensely in the economic, social, cultural and educational sectors of lives.
“The role of women in Nigeria’s development cannot be overemphasised.
“The global launch of the Global Strategy to Accelerate Elimination of Cervical Cancer provides a clear path.
“Everyone can be committed to achieving WHO global target of 90 per cent coverage of HPV vaccination, 70 per cent coverage of cervical screening and 90 per cent treatment of cervical cancer by 2030.
“In line with the WHO global strategy on the elimination of cervical cancer, the NPHCDA and the FMoH are working closely to introduce a routine HPV vaccination into the national immunisation routine in 2021.”
In his goodwill message, the WHO Representative in the country, Kazadi Mulombo, said cervical cancer was a leading cause of maternal mortality in the country.
Mulombo said: “The world has come in unison to eliminate this monster.
“WHO applauds the efforts of government at all levels in its agenda of making vaccines available in the routine immunisation schedule.”
NAN reports that over 60 monuments were lit to symbolise the elimination of cervical cancer the world over.