..calls for lessening of cancer burden in Nigeria through provision of adequate treatment facilities
The First Lady of Ondo State, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has expressed delight in the progress and achievement recorded by the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN), for the past 25years of its existence, saying that her vision had come to fruition.
She stated this during a Press Conference at BRECAN Centre, which comprises offices like consulting rooms and the Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Hope Lodge, Ring Road Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, as part of preparations for the 25th anniversary and 4th International Breast Cancer Symposium of the association coming up in two weeks time.
She commended those who supported the vision to this level, especially the executive members across Nigeria, and All Saints College Jericho Ibadan, saying, “Listening to Tolu the National President speaking, I know my vision has been accomplished. One thing is to dream and have this vision come to fruition because more often than not, for your vision to come alive, you need people. You can dream big, if you don’t have people with you, the dream or vision will die a natural death.
“I want to say here today, that vision that I had 25years ago has come to fruition because I have capacity President and executive members across the five active chapters”.
Mrs. Akeredolu, while taking a trip down memory lane of how she founded BRECAN after her encounter with Breast cancer in 1997, called on government to galvanise actions towards lessening cancer burden in Nigeria.
Lamenting the wide gap in access to cancer care in Nigeria due to the expensive treatment bill and inadequate radiotherapy centres, the BRECAN Founder advised State governments to take up the challenge by including cancer care in their annual budgets in order to prevent vulnerable women from dying needlessly due to breast cancer.
She also called for data collection of cancer cases by each state of the federation, and an insurance policy, which, she said would go a long way to achieve reasonable results in cancer reduction.
Fielding questions from the media if only the rich survived breast cancer, the BRECAN Founder asserted that “the burden of cancer is huge, while hinting that “it is a topic of discussion during this conference. That’s why it looks as if only the rich survive it because the capital outlaying is huge. If you are able to get government to do more , at least make access to breast cancer care, even all cancers, accessible, then those who would resign to fate would be drastically reduced.
“The provision of treatment centers, the facilities, and the machines needed if they’re available, for instance in Ondo State, if we have a radiotherapy machine those who are afflicted by the disease will just walk in if it’s in FMC, than from there to Ibadan.
“We keep on talking, we keep on advocating and people like us that passed through the experience were in the position to really paint the picture of what people pass through. If accessibility to treatment is made possible, I see no reason why any woman should die of breast cancer; but there is a caveat, very important, you must present early”. She added.
Highlighting some of the interventions and contributions of BRECAN to the cancer space in Nigeria through advocacy and patients support, the Ondo First Lady hinted how the association was able to advocate cancer control budget in Ondo, which the state’s ministry of health had keyed into.
She noted that, even though BRECAN’s founding vision was to galvanise actions against breast cancer, it had now included cervical cancer being the two major cancers threatening women’s existence.
Expressing delight about the reduction in superstitious belief and mindset of people about breast cancer which made many people not to associate with BRECAN at the initial stage, she noted that the association’s hallmark was sensitising people that the disease could be survived if detected and presented for treatment early.
Speaking on the 25th anniversary, Mrs Akeredolu avered that it was to showcase how far BRECAN had come, the impacts it had made in the cancer control space and also serve as an avenue to address other sundry issues that’ll aid improve cancer care in Nigeria.
“Apart from ignorance which we believe with intensive sensitisation and so on, women can begin to appreciate that breast cancer is not caused by juju or spiritual attack. (There’s no point going to your Pastor to pray, we can not pray away lump); access to treatment is a big problem. So, there must be a way to lessen the burden of cancer care”.
Speaking earlier on the 25th anniversary, the national President of BRECAN, Ambassador Tolu-Taiwo, noted that the 25th anniversary also involves 4th international breast cancer symposium with the theme, ‘Closing the data gap for precision cancer control in Nigeria’.
According to her, the anniversary which would begin on 13th through 15th of October 2022, featured Public forum with renowned speakers from within and outside Nigeria, annual Jog4Life advocacy, showcasing of Survivors, and competition exercise on advocacy programmes among BRECAN’s members states.
Special Assistant to Ondo State Governor on Media
(Office of the First Lady)
Sept. 30, 2022