The National Cancer Week (NCW) 2015 commences on Sunday June 7, 2015 and ends on Sunday, June 14, 2015. The NCW is an advocacy week on the BIG WAR Against Cancer. The first Sunday in June is International Cancer Survivors’ Day. It is a day set aside globally, to celebrate all cancer survivors, their families and all those who contributed to their survival (the ‘co-survivors’); a day to show the world that there is life after a cancer diagnosis. It is a time to stand up for the surviving warriors (those battling with cancer) and to honor the fallen warriors (those who have succumbed to cancer). It is also a time to advocate for the provision of appropriate infrastructure for improving cancer survivorship in the nations of the world.
International Cancer Survivors’ Day marks the beginning of the National Cancer Week. This Week calls for a sober reflection by all Nigerians. Whilst many nations are celebrating years of improving cancer survivorship and improving quality of life following cancer diagnosis, Nigerians in their hundreds are dying of preventable cancer every day. This scourge spares neither the prominent and wealthy nor the underprivileged poor.
For instance, according to latest report by World Health Organization (WHO), Nigeria experienced an increase in deaths from the most common cancers in men and women within four years. In 2008 breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily; by 2012 this had risen to 40 women daily. In 2008 prostate cancer killed 14 Nigerian men daily; by 2012 this had risen to 26 men daily. In 2008 liver cancer killed 24 Nigerians daily; by 2012 this had risen to 32 daily. Every day Nigeria loses about 240 precious lives to cancer! This means that ten Nigerians die of cancer every hour! The good news is that most cancer deaths are preventable. According to WHO (2002), one-third of cancers is preventable, another one-third is curable and the last third can have good quality of life with appropriate care.
Our ability to succeed in the BIG WAR Against Cancer could be illustrated by the recent decline in cases of cervical cancer in Nigeria, making cervical cancer an icon of hope in the midst of depressing statistics. In 2007, the mass medical mission, a non-governmental initiative, pioneered community-based mass cervical cancer screening campaign across Nigeria, known as the National Cervical Cancer Prevention Programme (NCCPP). This initiative was later renamed the National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCPP) following the incorporation of other cancers. In spite of its limited resources, the NCPP has been at work since 2007; over 100,000 Nigerians have been directly screened and treated so far, and through the awareness created, the NCPP is helping to protect millions of Nigerians from cancer.
This sacrificial effort has contributed to a 15% reduction of cervical cancer deaths in Nigeria from 26 women dying daily to 22 daily between 2008 and 2012 (World Health Organization data). The significance of this decline is immense, because it reversed the earlier projection of W.H.O. that cervical cancer death rate would increase by 25% within 10 years, in the absence of widespread intervention. So, as we mark this year’s International Cancer Survivors’ Day, there is a reason for us to celebrate, while we keep our vision firmly fixed on the need for us to do much more and to do much better than we have done.
The fact that 22 women still die of cervical cancer every day in Nigeria, is totally unacceptable and intolerable, given the fact that cervical cancer is virtually 100% preventable. Each woman who dies from cervical cancer after years of suffering and pain is someone’s valued life partner, mother, sister, aunt and daughter. According to Dr. Christopher Wild, Director of IARC, “These findings bring into sharp focus the need to implement the tools already available for cervical cancer, notably HPV vaccination combined with well-organized national programmes for screening and treatment”.
The decline in the deaths from cervical cancer is proof that we could protect our people from the cancer scourge if we scale up. In honour of all Nigerians who have succumbed to cancer, the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP-Nigeria) hereby calls on every person and every organization in Nigeria and in the Nigerian diaspora to support the BIG WAR Against Cancer in Nigeria.
The immediate focus of CECP-Nigeria is to acquire and deploy Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC), which will energize the impact of the NCPP particularly on the poor in our country through three separate, yet related interventions, viz:
- Intensive Awareness created by reaching every Local Government Area at least once a year;
- Screening for cancer & the ten Cancer-related killer diseases (Diabetes, Renal Disease, Malaria, Schistosomiasis, obesity, Helicobacter pylori, Hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and Hypertension); and
- Prompt treatment of early cases, combined with an efficient referral of advanced cases.
Each MCC costs USD 600,000 or about 120 million naira at the current exchange rate. The operational cost per 100,000 participants is USD 685,000. This covers the cost of maintenance, personnel and screening for cancer and its risk factors as well as for treating pre-cancer and early cancer free-of- charge.
With the MCC, we could not only further improve the survivorship for cervical cancer but also, reverse the current increasing trend for other common cancers and cancer risk factors. Moreover, by providing preventive services for the ten Cancer-related killer diseases, the MCC would enable Nigeria to tackle the double burden of both communicable and non-communicable diseases.
To make this vision a reality, CECP is currently involved in a fund-raising campaign, known as the #GivingTide. The #GivingTide is managed by a team made up of some of Nigeria’s trusted and dedicated corporate leaders, led by Prof. Pat Utomi. A highpoint of the #GivingTide is the National Cancer Week, which is anchored by Dr. Christopher Kolade, CON. The climax of the NCW is on Sunday, June 14, 2015, and will take the form of a Banquet of Stars Against Cancer or BOSAC (The ‘Centurions Conclave’) at Eko Hotel and Suites. This is an exclusive event for philanthropists who would make transformational donations towards the Big War Against Cancer. His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State is the official Host Governor of this year’s Banquet; the Sultan of Sokoto is the Royal Father of the Day.
Other activities lined up for the other days of the NCW include:
- Sunday, June 7, 2015 (International Cancer Survivors’ Day) – Stars in the Church Against Cancer (Advocacy & Fund-Raising in Churches);
- Monday; June 8, 2015 – Rising Stars Against Cancer (Advocacy & Fund-Raising by Youth & Students);
- Tuesday, June 9, 2015: Stars in Media Against Cancer (Advocacy & Fund-Raising by Media/IMC Sector);
- Wednesday, June 10, 2015- Open Day (DIY day);
- Thursday, June 11, 2015- Stars at Work Against Cancer (Advocacy & Fund-Raising in Offices);
- Friday, June 12, 2015- Stars in the Mosque Against Cancer (Advocacy & Fund-Raising by Mosques) and
- Saturday, June 13, 2015- Stars at Play Against Cancer (Advocacy & Fund-Raising through Entertainment & Sports).
EVERYONE IS INVITED TO PLAY A PART IN THE BIG WAR AGAINST CANCER IN NIGERIA; DO NOT BE MISSING IN ACTION!!
“By moving forward together we have the potential to show Cancer: It is not beyond us.”– Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) 2015
© 2015 Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP- Nigeria)