The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has issued a warning that 28 women in the country die daily from cervical cancer, despite preventable measures being put in place. To help combat this worrying trend, the institute has emphasized the need to vaccinate young girls and screen women for the disease.
At a recent event focused on the upsurge of cervical cancer among girls and women, Professor Oliver Ezechi, the Director of Research at NIMR, called on the government at all levels to take health issues relating to women seriously. He highlighted that cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women and is preventable.
However, Ezechi also identified a number of barriers to the effective containment of the disease, including immunization gaps, low knowledge, cultural difficulties, and screening. He called on the government to prioritize women’s health, explaining that saving a woman is saving the nation because of their importance in the home.
The numbers are stark: yearly, about 12,000 women in Nigeria are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and almost 8,000 die from it. Every day, about 28 Nigerian women die from cervical cancer. According to Ezechi, persistent infection by high-risk human papillomavirus is the cause of many cancers, including cervical cancers.
To address this issue, NIMR has launched an interactive session called “4GW,” where girls and women across Nigeria will work together to design and present their self-devised solutions to social and health issues. This session is dedicated to developing solutions to promote HPV vaccination and screening among girls and women in Nigeria.
In addition to Professor Ezechi’s comments, public health physician and researcher Dr. Benedict Azuogu added that cervical cancer is very common among women of childbearing age. Many people are unaware that it is preventable, and he stressed that it is 100% preventable through vaccination.
It is clear that action needs to be taken to address the high mortality rate from cervical cancer in Nigeria. With the concerted efforts of the government, medical professionals, and the wider community, there is hope that this preventable disease can be tackled and more lives saved.