A galaxy of stars and celebrities are joining forces against the ravages of cancer in Nigeria at an event tagged Banquet of Stars Against Cancer (BOSAC), holding in Lagos today.
Organised by the private sector-led initiative, Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CEPC-Nigeria), this gathering of eminent Nigerians against the cancer scourge is the climax of a week-long programme of activities marking Nigeria’s National Cancer Week, which began last Sunday.
The focal point of today’s august event is to raise funds to support the effort by CECP-Nigeria to acquire and deploy Mobile Cancer Centres (MCCs) in the 36 states of the country, and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, to increase the access of all Nigerians to screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The 37 MCCs, which are to be acquired at a cost of N95 million each, will be used to facilitate the work of the nation’s National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCCP). This programme has been described as the first and foremost national effort to tackle the onslaught of cancer in the country. The MCCs are “clinics on wheels” that will be moved around different locations in each state. They will have facilities for colonoscopy, sonology, mammography, cryotherapy, as well as equipment for screening for prostate and other common cancers. They will also deliver preventive care against diseases that increase the risk of cancer including malaria, diabetes, hepatitis, hypertension, HIV/AIDS and kidney disease. The highly respected duo of Mrs. Margaret Adetutu Adeleke and Dr. Chris Kolade are the Convener and Programme Anchor, respectively, of CEPC-Nigeria. The organisation adopted what it called The Big War Against Cancer, and the acquisition of 37 MCCs, as its first focal cause during the celebration of the International Corporate Philanthropy Day on February 25, 2013.
We unreservedly support this gargantuan effort by CECP-Nigeria to acquire and deploy mobile cancer screening, diagnostic and treatment equipment in the county. This charity banquet will go a long way in bringing life-saving cancer screening equipment closer to the doorsteps of all Nigerians, thereby improving their chances of survival of the disease. This is a critical intervention as early diagnosis has been acknowledged to be the major factor that determines whether a cancer patient survives the illness or not. The initiative is expected to save the lives of about 100,000 Nigerians annually.
There is no debating the fact that cancer, which overtook heart disease as the number one killer disease of mankind in 2010, requires all the creative strategies that the world can come up with to confront its onslaught. The CEPC has outlined a compelling case against cancer, using incontrovertible global and Nigerian health statistics. Cancer is said to kill more people than the dreaded HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. Incidence of the disease doubled, worldwide, between 1975 and 2000, and will double again by 2020. In Nigeria, 100,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year, with about 80,000 dying from the disease. Nigeria’s death rate of four out every five cancer cases is the worst in the whole world. Cervical cancer, which is largely preventable, is said to kill one woman every day in Nigeria, while breast cancer and prostate cancer kill 30 women and 14 men respectively, every day in the country. Cancer is the most expensive disease in the world to cure, and Nigerians spend about $200 million annually to seek cancer treatment abroad. Yet, one-third of all cancers are preventable, while another one-third can be effectively cured with early diagnosis, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Yet, more and more people are dying from cancer because of ignorance and poor access to diagnostic facilities.
Nobel Prize Winner, Otto Warburg, aptly captured the frustration of the world over the growing cancer epidemic when he lamented that no one can say that the causes and prevention of cancer are not known, yet millions of people die of the disease annually. To further drive home its point, CEPC-Nigeria has drawn up a list of notable world figures and Nigerians who survived the disease because of early diagnosis and treatment.
The CEPC-Nigeria, which is a Nigerian adaptation of the CEPC that was first established in the United States, has done well to come up with the grand idea of a banquet of stars to rally against cancer. The organisation, which is co-promoted by the core bodies of the Organised Private Sector in Nigeria (OPS-Nigeria, namely the Institute of Directors (IoD); the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI); the Nigerian Employers Consultative Association (NECA); the Nigerian Association of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA); Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), is credible, and deserves support of Corporate Nigeria and all well meaning persons on this laudable initiative. The appeal from corporate leaders for support for this outstanding initiative bears the signatures of eminent and highly respected personalities such as Dr. Michael Omolayole, Lady Maiden Alex Ibru, Mr. Felix Ohiwerei and Sir Oluremi Omotosho.
Cancer, undoubtedly, is a formidable disease but it can be defeated with early screening, diagnosis and treatment, which the MCCs will take to every state in the country. Our view is that this is a doable project. It is not beyond the capacity of Corporate Nigeria, if its leaders strongly resolve to support the project. Smaller corporate organisations can team up to sponsor one unit of the MCCs. All other Nigerians should also support this project with their widow’s mite. Let all Nigerians and organisations such as churches, mosques, community and non- governmental organisations drive the awareness of this noble effort to improve access to information, screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the country.