Wife of Ondo State Governor and Founder of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has called for a more innovative approach to reduce cancer burden, especially in low-middle income countries, like Nigeria.
She adcocated availability of population based cancer registries, noting that to achieve the desired result in cancer control programming in Nigeria, a complete and accurate data is essential.
Mrs. Akeredolu made the call in her welcome address titled, “Knowledge is Power but Knowledge with data is even more powerful”, at the opening ceremony of BRECAN 25th anniversary and 4th International Breast Cancer Symposium, held at Jogor centre, Ibadan the Oyo State capital.
The Ondo First Lady, who founded BRECAN 25 years ago after surviving breast cancer disease in Ibadan, faulted lack of adequate cancer data that captures number of cases, treatment options, survival and mortality rate; describing these indicators as the reason cancer programming was difficult to implement.
She said; “Data available on these are mainly estimates, which are in fact underestimated. The true representation of our cancer reality still does not exist. This makes it difficult for cancer advocates to express the true picture of the cancer reality in Nigeria to policy makers in order to secure political will and action”.
Mrs. Akeredolu stressed the need for knowledge to drive actions against cancer, from behavioural to biological sciences.
Her words: “The world of innovation is now driven by artificial intelligence fuelled by big data. Improving our data system to leverage on artificial intelligence will help produce efficient and effective cancer prevention, screening, diagnosis and treatment systems for improved cancer outcome in LMICs”.
The BRECAN founder lamented the difficulty encountered by stakeholders in cancer control in providing the true representation of cancer reality, right treatment specific for subpopulation, the inability to understand the true behaviour of the population and the right approach to promote cancer care strategies.
She averred that the event, which has as its theme, “Closing the Data Gap for Precision Cancer Control in Nigeria “, would set up the stage for a radical implementation of more population based cancer registry in Nigeria.
She added that the need to upscale cancer control system to include accurate collection, management, analysis and reporting of cancer data was at the core of the symposium.
“It is evident that data is at the core of new technologies, even in healthcare, and considering the heterogeneity of genetic influenced diseases like cancer across population, it is pivotal to have data that represents our population as black Africans for cancer diagnostic and treatment technologies tailored to suit our population type”, she asserted.
In his goodwill message, the Governor of Oyo state, Engr. Seyi Makinde, commended BRECAN for being at the forefront of the fight against breast cancer through awareness for the past 25years.
The governor, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health, Dr. Adeyanju Alaroro, affirmed that the founder of the association was working the talk in cancer control.
Makinde noted that the Oyo State government had always identified with the organisation.
In her keynote address, Dr. Modupe Elebute, the CMD/CEO of Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre Lagos, lauded the doggedness of BRECAN founder to have started the association in Nigeria, 25years ago without considering the stigma.
Dr. Elebute, who was the Chairman of the occasion, corroborated the stance of the first lady as she also identified collection of data for cancer cases as a key factor to improve cancer control.
She lamented the increasing rate of breast cancer among young women, noting that a significant number of patients were below age 40.
She added that 70% patients presented at advanced stages, and identified awareness, screening, early detection, and partnership as factors that could help change the narrative and achieve the desired result in cancer control.
Also speaking, the Olubadan of Ibadan, His Imperial Majesty, Oba Moshood Olalekan Balogun, gave kudos to the founder for her commitment to sustain the vision for 25 years
He expressed optimism that she would continue even, after the expiration of her husband’s tenure as governor.
The monarch who spoke through Chief Lekan Alabi assured of the readiness of the Olubadan in council to support BRECAN’s vision by taking the awareness to all the local areas under his domain, and in local dialect.
Topics like Breast cancer, cervical cancer and population based cancer registries in Nigeria, ‘Cervical Cancer: What is 90-70-90’, ‘Data for action, the need for more population based cancer registries in Nigeria ‘, ‘Using data to drive cancer prevention and early detection in low and middle-income settings’, were treated by medical experts.