By JULIANA TAIWO-OBALONYE
How do you react when a medical test result comes out the way you never expected? Do you embrace the result and begin a retreat or shrug your shoulders and say God forbid!
This was at play at “Eat and Screen,” an initiative geared toward creating awareness on the fight against cancer, especially among the younger generation.
“Eat and Screen,” a the brainchild of a non-governmental organisation, Stand Up To Cancer Nigeria, in collaboration with Maubby’s Purple Box, an outfit promoting healthy eating, was meant to give Abuja residents the opportunity to know their health status, free of charge, recently.
About 60 participants, men and women, went through free screening on breast cancer, blood pressure test, sugar level test and BMI (Body Mass Index). They were also sensitised on the benefits of healthy eating
But for some, it would later show, were not prepared to embrace the verdict. Rather than count themselves lucky that they had been put on alert regarding their sugar level, blood pressure, BMI and cancer status, were heard yelling upon stepping out of the screening area “God forbid, it is not my portion”.
In his reaction, founder and project director of Stand Up To Cancer Nigeria, Caleb Egwuenu, said for almost a decade since it took up the challenge to help individuals and families understand, interpret and act upon the most reliable and recent breast cancer information, including all of the latest research so they can make the best decisions for their lives.
He said it was reactions like that that made his NGO to call on the federal government to include the treatment of cancer to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to enable more people have access to cancer treatment and management in the country.
“You will agree with me that the turnout was encouraging. About 60 participants, both men and women, went through free screening on breast cancer, blood pressure test, sugar level test and BMI. We also, as part of the initiative, sensitised the participants on the benefits of healthy eating.
“This success shows that we have much to do and we are now best prepared and more committed to our responsibility. People need to be sensitised on the need for regular, medical screenings and healthy eating. This programme has further re-energised our commitment to see that every individual access needful information on the benefits of early detection of cancer, and what can be done subsequently to survive the aliment. Therefore, we strongly advice that people should seize every opportunity they have to get sensitized and screened.
“We want to re-emphasise that our belief, which is an element of this initiative and its success, encourages that early detection is a great tool to fighting and surviving cancer. It is clearly no doubt that those who went through our sensitisation and screenings are now fully aware of what advantage they have knowing their health status. They are now armed with knowledge on how they can manage their health medically and equally get better, even by healthy eating.
“Essentially, the success we share today is the reason the initiative ‘Eat and Screen’ is considered and adopted. Our aims are to promote healthy eating and regular cancer screening in our society, across gender. Therefore, we will continue to sensitise the public on the importance of health care and regular medical screenings.
“This exercise, which will come up again in December 2016, will help to continually create awareness for the fight against Cancer and increase the consciousness among Nigerians, especially the young people. With this, we are determined to reduce cancer-related burden and its death rate in our society”.
Egwuenu, while reeling out statistics of those that have died due to cancer, regretted that despite the prevalence of cancer, there were inadequate facilities for its treatment. While commending the private facilities for their intervention in chemotherapy and other treatments, he noted that the cost was beyond the average Nigerian.
“Forty women die from breast cancer, 26 men die from prostate cancer, one Nigerian woman dies every hour from cervical cancer.
“This is why we want the government to include cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme, so that patients who are on the scheme won’t have to pay for cancer treatment from their pockets. Government needs to do a lot more about the treatment of cancer in Nigeria.
“Recently, I heard that none of the radiotherapy machines in the country was working. The government needs to provide more treatment centres in the country so that when this awareness is created and people find out that they need medicare they can find somewhere close to them at a reduced cost,” he said.