As part of activities to mark the 2015 Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) Week in Lagos State, the Association of Lady Pharmacists (ALPs) in conjunction with Sabeccly Cancer Care, has called on the federal government to come to the aid of indigent citizens, who continue to die daily of the cancer scourge.
The lady pharmacists who took cancer awareness campaign and screening to civil servants and residents of Somolu Local Government Area, on 11 August, 2015, canvassed the inclusion of cancer care in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), arguing that while cancer care requires collaborative efforts, government must play a major role for success to be achieved.
Addressing participants during the campaign, Dr Omolola Salako, executive director, Sabeecly Cancer Care, lamented the prevalence of breast and cervical cancers among women, which she attributed to delayed presentation in the hospitals.
She noted that about 60 per cent of women had one form of breast lump or the other, which could be prevented from degenerating into cancerous growths when patients report early for medical examinations and counselling.
“For early diagnosis of cancer, women from 20 years and above are to practise self breast-examination once in a month, and see a doctor once in three years; while women who are 40 years and above should continue with self breast-examination and see a doctor for mammography annually”, she advised.
Dr Salako also maintained that cervical cancer could be prevented and should be prevented through the practice of safe sex. She listed the ABC of safe sex as Abstinence, Being faithful to one’s partner and Condom use.
She further counselled women to get vaccinated and go for Pap Smear , noting that “It cost less than N20, 000 to prevent cervical cancer and it costs over N500, 000 to treat it. Women should be wise in making the right decision by going for screening, because as they say, prevention is better than cure”.
Explaining reasons for the upsurge in cancer cases despite awareness campaigns, Dr Salako emphasised that there was a gap in awareness creation and the behavioural practices of many women. She equally noted that it was possible that information was not being strategically disseminated, or that some recipients of such information choose to be in denial.
She consequently called for a coordinated cancer information system that reaches people effectively and ensures that they go for screening.
On the role of the government and the NHIS in taming the scourge of cancer, the Sabeecly executive director said:
“It is expected that the NHIS should cover cancer care, we can take initial steps on this. The slogan for NHIS is ‘health care for all’. Health care is not just malaria or diabetes; available statistics are showing increase in cancer, we need to prepare for the burden, prevent preventable cases, in order to check the rate of cancer mortality in the country. As a nation, we are losing whole lots of women to breast and cervical cancer. And until the government takes full responsibility, we can’t win the war against cancer.”
Welcoming the participants earlier, the Lagos State ALPs chairperson, who was represented by the vice chairperson, Mrs Ngozi Okoye, expressed her delight with the turnout of the audience for the health education.
Explaining the vision and mission of ALPs as an interest group of the PSN, she said the ultimate goal is the enhancement of public health, with special focus on women and children. She listed the focus areas of ALPs Lagos activities to include girl-child education, school moral campaigns, HIV counselling and testing (HCT), charity visits and activities, environmental health and hygiene, as well as advocacy for rational drug use.
Okoye also explained ALPS roles in the Pharmacy Week, stating that the annual event of the PSN is often used as an opportunity to create awareness to the public about prevalent health issues and the pharmacists’ roles and contributions. The theme for this year’s edition was ‘Good Pharmacy Practice – The Key to Better Health Outcomes’. However, in consideration of the prevalence of various preventable and manageable health conditions currently ravaging the society, the Association of Lady Pharmacists, Lagos added the sub-theme: “Sensitisation and Health Screening Intervention as tools of Good Pharmacy Practice for better health outcomes”.