By Dipo Olowookere
Wife of the Nigeria’s President, Mrs Aisha Muhammadu Buhari, has called on stakeholders to engage more women in their effort to prevent the spread of cancer disease and the death of many.
She made the call at the High-Level Regional Seminar on Cancer Awareness and Advocacy at Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso on Thursday, August 2, 2018.
Mrs Buhari urged stakeholders to take advantage of decisions that will come out of the meeting and chart a clear course of action on cancer prevention.
Like in many countries, she said, Cancer is a major health challenge confronting Nigeria as it draws a lot in terms of resources for management and research.
Mrs Buhari declared that a lot is being done as part of efforts to improve cancer management in the country, citing the recent launch of the National Cancer Control Plan, which would guide the implementation of Cancer control activities across the national spectrum.
She expressed the belief that the Plan will guide NGOs like my Future Assured in their advocacy and other support activities.
“We have already engaged wives of governors of Nigeria’s 36 states for the purpose of cascading the campaign against cancer to subnational levels and in the last 3 years, we have conducted screening for cervical and breast cancers that have attracted thousands of women,” she held.
Mrs Buhari said Future Assured programme has reached thousands of women with its empowerment and educational programmes in line with the 2016 Istanbul Declaration on Cancer Prevention, which recognized poverty and lack of education as some of the contributing factors to the rising incidence and prevalence of cancer disease.
In her welcome address, the First Lady of Burkina Faso, Mrs Sika Kabore, the convener, said the Seminar was the fruit of a long standing commitment to prevent cancer, especially among women.
She lamented the thousands of lives lost to cancer every year, with most coming from the developing world and stressed the need to protect the health of the citizenry for the stimulation of social and economic development.
She further said cancer is the second highest cause of maternal mortality, affecting mostly women who only require information to prevent themselves.
Mrs Kabore said the seminar was a sign of a common commitment to fight cancer, especially among First Ladies and urged them to reinforce their role in cancer prevention by advocating for strong public policy measures in their countries.
Addresses were delivered by the Regional Director of World Health Organization (WHO), Deputy Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and the Regional Director of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in which they gave graphic statistics on the prevalence and rate of mortality on the Cancer scourge with promises of support to countries.
Ten African First Ladies addressed the Seminar on their national experiences on Cancer control.
The seminar, with theme “Promoting Cancer Awareness and Advocacy Programmes in Africa Member States of the OIC” is a follow up to the Special Session on the First Ladies Leadership on Cancer Control held in Istanbul, Turkey in 2016, which committed to equipping the first ladies with tools to ensure leadership in combating cancer through advocacy and strengthening cooperation. President of Burkina Faso, Roch Kabore, as well as the Prime Minister and Speaker of the Faso Assembly attended the Seminar.
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