By Dipo Olowookere
The Federal Government has promised to work with Oyo State Government in finding a lasting solution to the high rate of cervical cancer prevalence in the state.
The Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, made the promise while delivering a lecture at a symposium organized by Access to Basic Medical Care (ABC) Foundation founded by the wife of Oyo State Governor, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, in Ibadan on Friday.
The symposium, which was organized to mark the third anniversary of the Foundation, was attended by eminent personalities including the Oyo State Governor, Mr Abiola Ajimobi and wife of Lagos State Governor, Mrs Bolanle Ambode.
Others are the wife of the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Mrs Bisi Fayemi, Emeritus Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe; Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Prof Temitope Alonge, as well as other top medical and health officials across the country.
Prof Adewole, while praising the foundation’s initiative in providing cervical cancer screening for people, said it was the third in the whole of Africa to have the equipment for the screening of the dreaded disease.
He said in spite of the socio-economic conditions which had made access to healthcare service difficult for people, his ministry would partner the government to take qualitative healthcare delivery to the nooks and crannies of the state.
Prof Adewole said, “While appreciating the gesture of ABC Foundation in helping to care for the common people, I want to posit that this service will be better if it is extended to the rural populace in form of primary healthcare services.
“I want to assure you all that my ministry will collaborate with Oyo State Government in achieving this. You have taken a huge step and we will encourage you. The involvement of private citizens like you in healthcare delivery is a welcome development.
“This is one of the best ways to decongest the teaching hospitals. Because experience has shown that people present cases like headache, backache and skin rashes at teaching hospitals, which has made the facilities and the personnel to be overstretched.
“The Federal Government will soon start giving vaccines to people to stem mortality rate occasioned by lack of access to screening and cure for the disease. I want to state that state hospitals will be put into better use with this partnership.”
The Minister described cervical cancer as a sexually-transmitted disease, assuring that it could be prevented and cured if detected early.
In his address, Governor Ajimobi eulogized the foundation for giving succour to the needy and for partnering his administration in delivering good healthcare services to the people of the state.
He called on individuals and corporate bodies to see the cervical cancer scourge as a monster that must be frontally confronted and defeated.
The Governor also charged the FG and the foundation to make far-reaching information dissemination technique the foundation upon which the fight against the disease would be based.
Mr Ajimobi said, “Let us together change our health environment. What ABC is doing is a good example of an individual making the difference. Let us all use our influence to enhance healthcare delivery in our locality.
“This is a challenge to all of us to make a difference in our sphere of influence. And in this regard I want to urge the FG to take the lead in using information, education and communication strategy to create awareness on these deadly diseases.
“We have to let our people know, because many people are dying arising from ignorance. The states and local governments should collaborate with the FG for mass enlightenment of our people on early presentation of cases at standard health facilities.”
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, Prof Oladipo Akinkungbe, lauded the foundation’s initiative.
He added that he had no doubt about the viability and sustainability of ABC given the international partnership it had attracted as well as the commitment and passion of the founder and her husband.
He called for the interpretation of some basic medical data and transmission of same to the mass populace in order to stop the spread of the disease.
Prof Akinkugbe said, “Prevention is the name of the game. The salvation of the country lies more in preventive healthcare than in theory.
“It is depressing to see the mortality rate when prevention should have taken place. It is, therefore, important to make more medical data available in an understandable form for rural people to understand.
“Through this, people will be able to understand the disease and we would have been able to tackle the menace of cervical cancer, among other deadly diseases.”
In her address, the founder of ABC expressed happiness with the success so far recorded by the foundation, particularly the impact it had made in the lives of the people.
Thanking the foundation’s partners for their support, the governor’s wife assured that she would not rest on her laurels until the initiative was taken to greater heights.
Mrs Ajimobi said “It is my belief that today’s programme will spur those who have roles to play in bringing cervical cancer to zero level.”
“It is pertinent to mention that the foundation has offered free cervical cancer screening to over 3,000 women, while over 500 have had access to follow up services and treatment of the disease.
“I want to use this medium to call on all women to take charge of their health and to support all the initiatives targeted at creating more awareness about the disease so as to reduce it to a zero level and possibly eradicate it,” she added.
The Guest Lecturer, Prof Oluwarotimi Akinola gave insight into the cause, effect and possible solutions to the scourge of cervical cancer.
According to him, indiscriminate sexual lifestyle, circumcision, socio-cultural and socio-economic status, dietary factor and lack of awareness are among the major causes of the disease in the country.
He stressed the need for early detection through screening as a way of stopping the dreaded disease.