– Commends the support of Pfizer pharmaceutical, Others
The Founder, Breast Without Spot, (BWS) Prof. Ifeoma Okoye has said that the fear of being stigmatized and the exorbitant cost of treatment drives away patients with early cases of cancer from the hospital as well as contributes to increasing deaths from the disease.
Okoye said that adequate diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer will improve the survival rate of patients with the disease in Nigeria.
In a speech during the first nationwide ‘go pink’ day and official flag off of breast cancer initiative and intervention fund by BWS to help patients get diagnosis and treatment, Prof. Okoye said that many people go through difficulties due to the fact that most cancer patients in Nigeria come to hospital during the last stage of the disease resulting in treatment failure.
“Illiteracy and ignorance about cancer are widespread in Nigeria and that is why it has the highest cancer death rate in Africa and one of the major drivers for the high morbidity is the unaffordable medical bills associated with late presentation”.
While stating that the fear that fuels the ignorant perception can only be buried if there’s change of the narrative, she added that through improving survivorship and increase in the number of people who are alive to share their stories, more people will come out for diagnosis and treatment.
She disclosed that the intervention fund is to help persons with the cancer problem to get treated adding that: “The intervention fund will be utilized to improve 25 percent and seek a marching grant of 75 percent to complete the payment of people with the disease”, she said.
Okoye who explained that 26 women die everyday from breast cancer regretted that the prevalent rate of the disease in Nigeria is 1 in every 4 cases, noting that most patients refuse to identify and share their stories for fear of stigmatization.
“Ensuring sustained awareness to improved compliance with healthy living and screening recommendations must mandatorily be complimented by providing an international fund to ensure those detected early are assured to access medical management across the continuum of care”.
Prof. Okoye who lamented that cancer has ravaged the lives of many women in the society paid glowing tribute to distinguish men and women who have through various contributions made the goals of BWS not be extinguished.
She pledged that the Foundation will continue to make determined efforts to ensure that the ravaging effects of breast cancer is controlled in the 17 local governments in Enugu state and beyond.
“We shall create awareness in rural areas about the scourge of the disease and how it can be addressed so that our women can live better”
Okoye commended the support of Federal Ministry of Health, Pfizer pharmaceuticals and other corporate agencies who pledged support to work with Breast Without Spots, BWS, in it’s drive to reduce the burden of breast cancer in Nigeria communities.
Ngozi Ushedo, who represented Pfizer pharmaceuticals said “the collaboration with BWS is aimed at providing increased awareness on breast cancer and reaching out to the government to take action against the disease.
“Pfizer will continue to support awareness programmes on cancer as early detection and treatment can help in reducing the number of deaths.
“We are committed to fostering hope in the fight against breast cancer in our communities”, she said
In his remarks, Chairman of the event, Prof. Chinedu Nebo said that there are people who would have been saved from the disease but because of lack of knowledge about the existence of such initiatives, they died with the disease.
“We can stop breast cancer from decimating our population by informing them about the preventive measure and helping them to afford the treatment” he said.
Breast without Spot is a Not-for-profit and non-governmental organization with the mission to reduce the burden of death due to late cancer detection and other communicable diseases through health education, screening vaccination, training and research on all cancers and communicable diseases.
Also speaking earlier, the Minister of health of Isaac Adewole extolled the energy of Prof. Okoye in driving the cancer project which according to him has a high cost implication in treatment and as well beyond the reach of most people.
The Minister said that the ministry is happy to associate with BWS because it’s only an NGO like it that could vigorously carry on with the treatment of breast cancer for the lesser persons in the Society.
He applauded the commitment and doggedness of Prof. Ifeoma Okoye and the board members of the organization, pledging to work with organisation to achieve the organisations set out objectives.
The Deputy Governor of Enugu state Mrs Cecilia Ezeilo said cancer is deadly and regrets that the awareness so far in the country is relatively low.
She called for support, proper awareness and commended BWS in their effort towards curbing the menace and improving on the awareness.
Guest to the function were treated to beautiful renditions.