African First Ladies unite to fight cancer

In a powerful display of solidarity, First Ladies from across Africa gathered in Abuja this week to confront the continent’s growing cancer crisis head-on.
Hosted by Nigerian First Lady, Mrs Oluremi Tinubu, the 3rd Regional Seminar on Cancer Awareness served as a call to action for accelerated prevention and treatment efforts.
Acknowledging several initiatives of the current administration in cancer management, including improved budgetary funding for health in 2024 and expanded access to cancer treatment, the Nigeria’s First Lady said that reversing the grim statistics of cancer prevalence in the country in the last five years is a major priority, starting with mobilising resources to promote early detection.
According to a statement by her media aide, Busola Kukoyi, the seminar, aims to share knowledge and mobilise resources towards rolling back the prevalence of cancer, particularly breast and cervical cancer among women.
Mrs Tinubu while addressing the seminar stated that President Bola Tinubu has fully taken up the diagnostic and treatment component of cancer care.
The First Lady said she will lead the advocacy to promote innovative approaches to cancer prevention and early detection.
She said her major interest is to reduce the prevalence of late presentation to improve treatment outcomes and also assured Nigerians that the HPV vaccine is safe and very helpful in preventing cancer of the cervix in young girls.
“My major interest is to reduce the prevalence of late presentation to improve treatment outcomes. Reports from various cancer registries in the country which have been corroborated by Globocan Data reports showed that there were 127,763 new cancer cases and 79,542 deaths within the year and also, the prevalent cases of cancer over 5 years in the country, stood at 269,109.
“Globocan shows that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women in Nigeria. Fortunately, it is preventable and curable when detected early.
“This has led to my stand in championing preventive measures and early detection approach to all preventable and curable cancers in Nigeria,” Mrs Tinubu said.
In his remarks, the Speaker House of Representatives, Tajudeen Abbas emphasised the need to enact a National Cancer Act.
He said with the First Ladies taking the lead in the advocacy, he is assured that the outcome would be more positive.
Worried by the cumulative toll of Cancer on the continent, the First Lady of Turkey, Emine Erdogan urged Africans to promote a good dietary system and leverage their rich medicinal resources.
Presenting situation reports on cancer management in their various countries, First Ladies from OIC African member states, including Sierra Leone, The Gambia, and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, emphasised the need to forge alliances and raise awareness on the deadly disease.
After the seminar which had the technical session on Wednesday, there was the Abuja Declaration which had resolutions including improved funding, heightened advocacy, and improved collaboration between member states.

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