Former President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday counseled victims of cancer in Nigeria not to see the disease as a death sentence but rather embrace early medical solutions to overcome it.
Jonathan, who said this while speaking at the 28th Annual Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) Forum in Abuja, also advised the Federal Government to join forces together with the private sector to address cancer challenges in the country.
According to him, as more stakeholders are allowed to key into homegrown solutions to the menace of cancer, there will be an uptick in awareness and pooling of resources to effectively manage the disease.
The ex-President said, though it was true that about 70 percent of cancer deaths occur in Africa, late detection and referral for treatment, as well as poor access to treatment were responsible for the high mortality rate in low and middle income countries, including Nigeria.
“These delays in diagnosis and proper referrals lead to a situation where a high percentage of cancer cases arrive at the point of treatment in advanced stages of the disease when it is difficult to recover from or even manage.
“Cancer management is quite expensive and a technology-dependent endeavour, but homegrown solutions such as the community based LAPO C4 present us with hope.
“But with the required effort and manpower, we can evolve a system that works for our peculiar environment and gives us the best possible outcomes and reduce the possibility of loss of lives,” Jonathan said.
He, however, added that a strategic awareness campaign will go a long way towards eliminating the fear and misconceptions people generally have that cancer was a death sentence.
Speaking also, the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, commended LAPO for coming up with its C4 (Community Campaign for Cancer Control) initiative to raise awareness about cancer, and pledged to do everything necessary to support the overall objective of the group.
He said: “I like to appreciate LAPO for their investment in community-based cancer prevention programmes as this will promote early detection and treatment culminating in reducing morbidity and mortality and socioeconomic impacts on the communities.
“Community-based awareness activities are critical for effective cancer prevention among the low-income earners and members of the target communities. Thus, the project is contributing to creating awareness and encouraging community participation for cancer prevention and control and encouraging community participation for cancer prevention and control.”
“In his remarks, the Founder of LAPO, Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe, said that the Annual LAPO Development Forum was initiated in 1994 to create a platform to address development issues and challenges which many Nigerians contend with, with a view to proffering innovative and practicable solutions to them.
According to him, the theme of the 28th edition of the Annual LAPO Development Forum which is ‘Promoting Community Based Cancer Control Programme in Nigeria’ was apt.
Ehigiamusoe further said over the years, a number of issues have been addressed in various sessions of the Forum.
“Outcomes of the previous sessions have been very useful to LAPO’s programme development and refinement for the benefits of our beneficiaries who are members of low-income households across Nigeria and Sierra Leone.”