Minister of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dame Paulin Tallen, has expressed concerns over the prevalence of breast cancer among women, lamenting that the major barriers to women’s achievement of the highest attainable standard of health are inequality and harmful traditional practices.
Dame Tallen stated this Thursday at the flag-off of the 2019 breast cancer awareness month organised by the ministry in partnership with the Ministry of Health and MedicAid Cancer Foundation with the theme: I am and I will, held at the National Hospital, Abuja.
Tallen noted that Nigeria alone contributes about 15 per cent of the estimated 681,000 new cases of cancer that occur in Africa, adding that there are more than 100,000 new cases yearly with high fatality ratio.
“The most dangerous cause of premature mortality among women apart from maternal death is breast and cervical cancers, making both cancers a major health problem for women and the nation in general.
“Women sometimes accept ill health as their lot in life, often ignoring painful and unbearable symptoms because in their culture, a woman is expected to endure without complaining or because taboos and myths have led them to believe that the health problems emanates from some sort of reproachable behaviour on their part,” she said.
The minister further stressed the need to track efforts, measures and policies with a view to identifying gaps and recommend appropriate strategies, stressing the importance of addressing cancer problem through a multi-sectoral approach to improve reproductive and other health issues as contained in the national gender policy (NGP).
Earlier, the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths yearly in Nigeria, adding that there is an estimated 102,000 new cases of cancer.
“Of these new cases, breast and cervical account for more than 50 per cent. Specifically, cervical cancer is responsible for the incidence of about 27.2/100,000 and an estimate of about 15thousand (14,943) cases diagnosed annually with late presentation at health facility causing death of about 8,000 women annually in Nigeria,” he said.