Association urges govt to include cancer treatment in UHC to assist women

he Medical Women’s Association of Nigeria (MWAN) has urged all levels of government to include cancer treatment in the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) scheme to assist the vast majority of rural women.

The President of MWAN, Enugu State, Dr Ijeoma Obianyo, made the call on Thursday in Enugu during a symposium on “Cancer Awareness and Prevention” as part of ongoing programmes for MWAN Week 2022 in Enugu State.

The week, which is themed: “Early Detection of Cancer Saves Lives”, is running from Oct. 15 to Oct. 22 with continuous public awareness and education on breast and cervical cancers and early detection.

Obianyo noted that there was the need to keep up the awareness level and ensure that women above 30 years should engage in regular screening and self examination to detect breast and cervical cancers very early to aid treatment.

She said that cancer had become the lead cause of death among women, adding that this was due to late detection when no effective medical remedy could be given to the patient.

“However, we preach the gospel of early detection via regular personal examination and medical check-ups just as we go to check for malaria fever and typhoid.

“It is time we pay serious attention to cancer disease through regular checks and taking necessary health precautions.

“It is rather unfortunate that over the years, we have lost quite a number of women and MWAN, both at the national and state levels, has vowed to reverse this ugly trend that steals our women from us,” Obianyo said.

She said that the week-long activities started with an awareness walk on cancer screening and check; and then followed by radio awareness programmes and jingles on prevention of common cancers from Oct. 17 to the end of the month.

“On Saturday, Oct. 22, we will be having a free breast cancer check at our headquarters at MWAN Centre at Abakaliki Road, GRA Enugu,” she said.

In a lecture titled: “Screening for Breast Cancer and Challenges of Early Detection in Our Environment”, Dr Nneka Nweke, noted that women should know their breasts and ensure that they engage in creating awareness among other women on cancer check.

Nweke noted that poverty, ignorance and lack of awareness on taking early steps to detect cancers by women remained major impediments to its containment in the country.

“We can reverse the trend by aggressive health education on early detection and treatment and ensuring we empower women especially rural women to have access to cancer test centres and kits as well,” she said.

In another lecture, titled: “Available Screening Modalities for Prostate Cancer”, Dr Ikenna Nnabugwu urged men above 40 years to do well by getting yearly prostate cancer checks.

Nnabugwu, who is from the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, called on men to ensure that they form the habit of visiting health facilities and reporting any abnormality experienced.

In a goodwill message, the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Ikechukwu Obi, said that awareness on cancer early detection cannot be over-emphasised, adding that “our people needed to know the enormous benefits in early detection of any kind of cancer”.

Obi, represented by Dr Ifeoma Otiji of the state Ministry of Health, said that the state was strengthening all its health facilities with kits necessary to ensure early detection of diseases, especially cancers.

Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof. Ngozi Ibeziako, noted that breast cancer remained the most common cancer and it affects women the most and a negligible number of men.

Ibeziako noted that there was a need to increase education of everybody, both family members and health workers, to watch out for it and do the right diagnoses on time for it to be tackled early and ensure the safety of all women.

The high points of the event were a testimony by a breast cancer survivor, Mrs Joy Ebue; a launch of an endowment fund to support the programmes of MWAN as well as a gala and get together of all its members.

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