The first week in June, 2014 is being marked as National Cancer Week, commencing from June 1- June 8, 2014. Globally, the first Sunday in June is designated as Cancer Survivors’ Day. This is marked this on June 1 this year. The International Cancer Survivors’ Day (ICSD) is an annual celebration of life. It is a day set aside each year to honor everyone who is living with a history of cancer. ICSD started in the United States 27 years ago and is now celebrated worldwide.
ICSD provides an opportunity for cancer survivors to connect with other survivors, celebrate milestones, and recognize the healthcare providers, family, and friends who have supported them along the way. It is a day for cancer survivors to stand together and show the world that life after a cancer diagnosis can be meaningful, productive, and even inspiring. However, contrary to the false belief by many, cancer is not a death sentence. Indeed, given our current level of medical knowledge most deaths from cancer are easily preventable. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-third of cancers are preventable, another one-third is curable and the last third can have good quality of life with appropriate care.
Sixty years ago, 1 out of 3 people diagnosed with cancer survived in the United States. Today, 2 out of 3 will survive cancer. Furthermore, the stated target of the American Cancer Society is to improve the survival rate of cancer to 100%, thus making this the last century for cancer in the United States. According to a new report by the American Association for Cancer Research, there are currently nearly 14 million cancer survivors living in the United States and the cancer survivor population in America is expected to rise to 18 million by the year 2022. When the U.S. Congress passed the National Cancer Act back in 1971, that number was only 3 million.
The five-year survival rate for all cancers is now about 65%. Significant progress has been made against some cancers, such as breast cancer. The five-year survival rate for female breast cancer patients is now 90% compared with 63% in the early 1960s. Another example is cancer of the blood in children, where the five-year survival rate is now greater than 90% versus 58% in the mid-1970s.
However, what is the situation in Nigeria? 4 out of every 5 cases of cancers die and only 1 out of 5 survive (the worst in the whole world, even worse than what obtained in the United States 60 years ago). The cancer situation in Nigeria is even worse when you consider specific cancers. For instance, out of every 30 Nigerians that have leukaemia, only one (1) survives. This is very unfortunate because leukaemia, a common cancer in children and young adults, is now curable. At the Tata Cancer Centre in India, out of every 100 cases of leukemia, 99 survive.
The success in the U.S and India is the result of investment made by government, philanthropists, and the private sector to the funding of cancer research as well as early detection and access to first- class treatment. A Comprehensive Cancer Centre is a tertiary health institution focused exclusively on cancer care. For instance, India has over 120 Comprehensive Cancer Centres (CCCs), mostly established with the support of the private sector. Bangalore, an Indian city with a population of 8 million has four Comprehensive Cancer Centres whilst Nigeria with a population of 167 million neither has a CCC nor a full-fledged Mobile Cancer Centre (MCC). Other developing countries that have Comprehensive Cancer Centres include India, Egypt, Zambia, Mauritania, Pakistan, Tanzania, South Africa etc.
Don’t we need to improve the cancer survivorship in Nigeria? We need to ACT! Attack Cancer Together!! Support the BIG WAR against Cancer in Nigeria as we mark the National Cancer Week.
The BIG WAR against cancer was flagged- off by the Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy (CECP-Nigeria) on World Cancer Day, Feb, 2014. The specific aim of the BIG WAR is to take cancer prevention to the grassroots using Mobile Cancer Centres, one for each State and Abuja. A Mobile Cancer Centre (MCC) is a clinic on wheels, in which screening, follow-up and several forms of treatment (including surgeries), can take place. It includes facilities for mammography, sonology, colonoscopy. It will also contain colposcope and cryotherapy equipment, and a side laboratory and equipment for Prostate and colorectal cancer screening and other basic tests for hepatitis, malaria, HIV/AIDS and diabetes. In addition surgical theatre is incorporated into the MCC, as well as facilities for telemedicine. Thus the MCC would tackle the double burden of disease (Communicable & Non-Communicable Diseases).
The CECP- Nigeria is an initiative co-promoted by the following bodies of the organized private sector: Institute of Directors (IoD), Lagos Chamber of Commerce and industry (LCCI), Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines & Agriculture (NACCIMA), Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Nigerian Institute of Management (NIM) and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
The National Cancer Week is a week set aside for advocacy and fund-raising against cancer in Nigeria. All the funds raised during this period will go towards the acquisition of the Mobile Cancer Centre.
Activities lined up for the week include:
Sunday, June 1, 2014 (Cancer Survivors’ Day) – Stars in the Church against Cancer. Advocacy and fund-raising against Cancer in churches. All cancer survivors, their friends and families, are invited as we celebrate life after cancer diagnoses in Nigeria. Cancer survivors should join hands with the CECP to ensure that more Nigerians survive cancer just like them.
Monday, June 2, 2014, RISING STARS AGAINST CANCER- Advocacy, Awareness & Fund-Raising by Educational Institutions
Tuesday, June 3, 2014, STARS IN MEDIA AGAINST CANCER- Advocacy session by Media Practitioners
Thursday, June 5, 2014, CORPORATE DRESS-DOWN DAY AGAINST CANCER, Advocacy & Fund-Raising by workers in offices
Friday, June 6, 2014, STARS IN THE MOSQUE AGAINST CANCER, Prayers & Special Collections by Mosques
Sunday, June 8, 2014 (Grand Finale)- BANQUET OF STARS AGAINST CANCER (BOSAC), an All-Stars All-Brands Act
VENUE: Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotel and Suite, VI
TIME: 3 PM Prompt
Spectral Carpet: 2 PM
HIGHLIGHT: Performance by TuFace Idibia and the MUSON Choir
HOST: Mrs. Joke Silva
All are invited to join in saving lives by enlisting as combatants in the BIG WAR.
Further enquiries can be obtained at www.cecpng.org
By Dr Abia Nzelu, Executive Secretary, CECP-Nigeria