By Doyin Ojosipe
The First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan has made a clarion call for the inclusion of reproductive health policies in Africa in the just concluded 8thStop Cervical, Breast and Prostrate Cancer in Africa, held from 20-22nd July, 2014, at Windhoek, in Namibia, with the theme, Universal Access to Cervical Cancer Prevention.
According to a press statement issued by the Media Adviser to the First Lady, Omoba Kenneth Aigbegbele, the First Lady said Africa has to rise to the occasion in implementing policies that are sustainable and achievable in reproduction health issues so as to reduce the spread of cancer among its people by encouraging women to participate in testing for early detection, community mobilization efforts and sensitization about cancer and feed-back mechanism by participating actively in the review and evaluation of the scourge.
According to the 2014 African Cervical Cancer Multi-Indicator Incidence and Mortality Scorecard, the prevalence of these health issues is very dominant in Africa and as such government across Africa must join hands with development partners to drive a multi-stakeholders’ approach to reduce the scourge.
According to the estimate in World Cancer Digest, 14 million are diagnosed with cancer around the world which includes breast, cervical and other cancers that urgent action is needed to ameliorate the sufferings of those affected and to improve national health systems across Africa.
The President, African First Ladies Peace Mission, Patience Jonathan has emphasized that “Universal access to cancer prevention is now,” saying that girls between the ages of nine to 15 years should be immunised with Human Papilloma Vaccine (HPV), and have regular cancer screening done using the affordable procedures of visual inspection with acetic acid and the pap smear.
She proffered that health education of adolescent and young adult females on factors associated with cervical cancer is a must, including the necessity of increased awareness and improved access to family planning, as well as the incorporation of cancer screening in family planning and maternal health services at an early age.
The First Lady argued that the pre- and post- counseling to prepare women for the outcome of cancer screening is also important as well as the promotion of healthy lifestyles of people in Africa, strengthening its strategic and legal framework to implementing a national cervical control policy which outlines the roadmap for Nigeria to control the challenges of cancer in the next few years ahead.
She said the Nigerian government had procured and distributed diagnostic and treatment equipment to 12 Federal Hospitals across the country.