2021 world cancer day: A call for personal commitment in the fight against cancer.
From Priscilla Ediare, Ado-Ekiti
A medical expert, Dr. Abidemi Omonisi has called on Nigerians to abstain from unhealthy lifestyles and practices that could make them susceptible to develop cancer.
Dr Omonisi is a Consultant Anatomic Pathologist with Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital (EKSUTH), Ado-Ekiti, the Director, Ekiti Cancer Registry and the Coordinator, Nigerian Cancer Society, Ekiti State Chapter.
The medical expert made the call in Ado-Ekiti on Wednesday as Ekiti State joins the rest of the world to mark 2021 World Cancer Day with the theme: ‘’ I am and I will.”
He gave a background on why the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) on 4th February, 2000 at the World Summit Against Cancer in Paris started to mark World Cancer Day on every 4th of February.
Omonisi disclosed that the main goal of marking World Cancer Day is to provide a platform for researchers, health care professionals, patients, governments, industries, non- governmental organizations, individuals and the media to build an invincible alliance against cancer and its greatest allies which are fear, ignorance and complacency.
He further stated that on World Cancer Day, people and organizations around the world unite to raise awareness about cancer and work to make it a global health priority.
The cancer expert who is also a member of the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries (NSCR), Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja and Research Committee of African Cancer Registry Network (AFRCN) stated that Cancer is now a major public health problem worldwide and one of the leading causes of death globally. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the new cancer cases in the year 2018 as 18.1 million globally and 9.6 million deaths with about 26,000 deaths per day recorded globally in 2018 and unfortunately, 70% of which occurred in the developing countries. WHO further predicted increase in new cases of cancer globally to 15 million in 2020.
He said we are all affected one way or the other by cancer. We have relatives, friends, colleagues, members of our various communities who have died, diagnosed and even treated for cancer, noted that we have the power to reduce its impacts on ourselves, the people we love and the wider world.
He, therefore, called for personal commitment of people wherever they may be residing around the world to help reduce the global burden of cancer through healthy eating, physical activity, limiting or quitting alcohol, knowing about signs and symptoms of cancer and early detection, sharing stories about their cancer experience, support cancer patients and survivors with physical and emotional impacts, dispel rumours and myths that lead to stigma and discrimination against people with cancer in some communities, encourage schools, and work places to improve nutrition, physical activity and no smoking policies that help people adopt healthy habits and to call on government leaders to commit adequate resources to reduce cancer deaths and provide better quality of life for patients and survivors.
He identified some of the causes of cancer as cigarette smoking; infections such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), Hepatitis B and C, Human Papilloma Virus( HPV); genetic factor; artificial ultraviolet radiations; undue exposure to sun’s ultraviolet rays particularly by Albinos; chemicals such as complex hydrocarbons, aromatic amines and certain heavy metals contained in some soaps used as skin bleaching soaps and some herbicides and pesticides, cautioned farmers to strictly adhere to the necessary precautionary measures when using herbicides and pesticides in their farms.
He stated that the first cancer incidence report published by Ekiti Cancer Registry in November, 2019 which was unveiled by Her Excellency, the wife of Governor of Ekiti State, Erelu Bisi Fayemi revealed that breast cancer is the leading cancer among females in Ekiti State and prostate cancer as the leading cancer in males and Burkitt’s lymphoma is the leading childhood cancer among children in the state.
Omonisi, the Principal Investigator of Transatlantic Prostate Cancer Familial Project ( CaPTC) in Ekiti State, hinted that cancer research on prostate, breast and cervical cancers are currently on going in the State.
He admonished Nigerians to protect people living with Cancer by obeying all non pharmaceutical precautionary measures and protocols put in place by the Federal Government in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because cancer patients are more likely to develop the severe illness of COVID-19 which may eventually lead to their deaths.
He urged all stakeholders to be committed in the fight against cancer so as to bring its current burden to the barest minimum.