Welcome Address Presented By The Executive Director Of LAPO, Sabina Idowu-Osehobo During Lapo-C4 Project Advocacy Visit To The Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry Of Health, Dr. (Mrs.) Caroline Wali On Monday, March 13th 2017.

 

·        The Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Health

·        Directors of Health Agencies, Departments and Parastatals

·        Representatives of LAPOC4 Partner NGOs

·        Gentlemen of the Press

·        Ladies and Gentlemen

 

 

It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to address the Permanent Secretary, Directors and other key officials of the Rivers State Ministry of Health on behalf of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) and NGOs involved in the implementation of the LAPO Community for Cancer Control in the State, the Care and Development Centre (CADEC) and the Rivers of Hope and Humanitarian Initiative (ROHI).

We truly appreciate this opportunity. 

 

LAPO is a leading non-governmental organization committed to the social, health and economic empowerment of the poor and vulnerable people across the country. The organization was founded by Dr. Godwin Eseiwi Ehigiamusoe in 1987 while working as a Rural Cooperative Officer at Ogwashi-Uku in the defunct Bendel State.

 

Over the years, the organisation has demonstrated uncommon commitment to poverty alleviation through the implementation of innovative credit and non-credit empowerment programmes targeting disadvantaged groups. LAPO programmes include gender sensitization aimed at reducing the level of gender inequity, social exclusion and health intervention, which include prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS, malaria and other tropical diseases. The vision of LAPO is a healthy and informed society characterized by prosperity, justice and equity.

 

One of LAPO’s key operating assumptions is that poverty is further reinforced by diseases and ignorance. Today, cancer is the number one killer disease of mankind. Cancer kills more people than HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis combined. The worldwide burden of cancer doubled between 1975 and 2000 and is set to double again by 2020.Furthermore, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) forecasts that by 2030, there will be more than 21 million new cases of cancer, and 13 million cancer deaths every year. In contrast, death from infectious diseases will fall by about 7 million per year. 

 

In Nigeria, over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer every year, out of which about 80,000 die due to late detection. The Nigerian cancer death ratio of 4 out of 5 is one of the worsts in the world. Cancer and related diseases kill more people than all other causes of death in Nigeria. Cervical cancer, which is virtually 100 per cent preventable kills one woman every hour in Nigeria and breast cancer now kills 40 Nigerians every day (compared to 30 daily in 2008). According to a 2013 report by WHO, prostate cancer kills 26 Nigerian men every day (up from 14 daily in 2008).

 

Main barriers to cancer control in Nigeria include poor access to screening services and inadequate awareness. The LAPOCommunity Campaign for Cancer Control(LAPOC4) project will therefore support the implementation of the Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan through enhanced collaboration of all stakeholders to reduce the morbidity and socio-economic effect of the disease across the country. The project is aimed at reducing cancer-related deaths in Nigeria by 50% by year 2018 by focusing attention on activities that promote prevention and early detection. Cancer prevention will be achieved through education of the populace on the pre-disposing factors, signs and symptoms while early detection will be achieved through massive drive for the provision of screening services.

 

The objectives include:

 

·        Increase awareness of cancer among rural men and women in target states by 25% by year 2017

·        Promote the culture of early detection among target population

·        Advocate for policy and practice change to enhance awareness, screening, and care for cancer patients in Nigeria

·        Advocate for the establishment of screening centres at PHC level

·        Advocate for subsidized screening at PHC level

·        Advocate for subsidized cancer screening and treatment for the less privileged in Nigeria

 

The 2-Year Project has the following as its focal states:  Lagos, Rivers, Edo and Imo  and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja and is being implemented in partnership with 13 Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) across the country. It was formally flagged off with the Training of the CBOs, a Grand Rally and Dialogue Session organized in Benin City for the purpose of building their capacity and creating broad awareness and support for the implementation of the Project.

 

As stated earlier, the major hindrance to the achievement of the LAPO-C4 project objectives is lack or poor access to screening facilities in target communities, and where available, the cost is largely unaffordable by affected community members. The need for improved access to cancer control services across the State cannot be over emphasized. The LAPO-C4 project team is therefore advocating for the following interventions by the Government of Rivers State:

 

1. Improved government efforts aimed at promoting early detection through the provision of basic screening services integrated with existing services such as ante-natal and child immunization programmes at the level of Primary Health Centres as well as the training of community healthcare personnel for the purpose of improving access to services across the State.

 

2. Subsidize the cost of cancer diagnosis and management to make cancer prevention services more accessible to vulnerable population and patients.

 

3. Establishment of State Cancer Control Agency and increased budgetary allocation for cancer control interventions in the State.

 

4. Effective collaboration of Government and Health Institutions with the LAPO-C4 Project implementation organisations in the State.

 

5. To ensure that the objectives of the ‘One PHC Per Ward’ support initiative of government includes expanding access to breast and cervical cancer screening and HPV vaccination. The strengthening of PHC referral linkages with secondary and tertiary facilities will undoubtedly reduce cancer morbidity in the State.

 

I wish to seize this opportunity to call on well-meaning individuals and corporate organizations to the implementation of this project towards reducing the prevalence, morbidity and socio-economic effect of cancer in the country. 

 

We charge our Project partners to ensure that LAPO’s mark of excellence and commitment are brought to bear in the implementation of the Project for the benefits of our people.

 

I appreciate your presence, attention and commitment to the LAPOC-4 project.

 

Thank you and God Bless.

 

Sabina Idowu-Osehobo

Executive Director

Lift Above Poverty Organization

March 15, 2017