Obasanjo Joins Fight Against Cervical Cancer, Calls For National Policy For Its Eradication - THE DAILY CRUCIBLE

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Thursday, July 15, 2021

Obasanjo Joins Fight Against Cervical Cancer, Calls For National Policy For Its Eradication

....Reveals Why His  Govt Had No Policy On Eradication Of Cervical Cancer

                                       •Obasanjo 


By Ayobami Ife, Abeokuta


Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has called for a national policy frame work for the eradication of cervical cancer in Nigeria. 

Obasanjo gave insight into why such policy was not in place during his administration.

The elder statesman recalled that contrary to what obtains today, the vaccine for the prevention of the virus that causes cervical cancer in women was either not available or its availability was not brought to his notice
when he was in government from May 29, 1999 - May 28, 2007.

He said this explained why his government had no policy on cervical cancer eradication in the country at the time .

The ex - President however,  appealed to the government  of the day both at the Federal and State levels to deploy all available resources to fight cervical cancer as they had fought polio, COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.

He made this known when he hosted delegates of the Cervical Cancer-Free Nigeria (CCFN), led by Senator Lanre Tejuoso, at his Penthouse located within the premises of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

The CCFN is co-led by Global Oncology (GO), a  non-profit foundation and the Legislative Initiative for Sustainable Development (LISDEL). It is a grassroots initiative to eliminate cervical cancer in Nigeria.

Obasanjo who was made the Presidential Ambassador for Global Oncology during the visit, urged the Federal government to invest in national-scale procurement and distribution of HPV vaccine to fight Human PapillomaVirus (HPV), the virus responsible for development of cervical cancer.

Obasanjo  said the HPV vaccine must be available for every Nigeria girl child to prevent the spread of cervical cancer in the country.

He said: "Our first responsibility is advocacy, that yes, this is a disease that can kill and that is killing our women, but it can be prevented. 

"The starting point for me is that we need a policy at the national and at the State level to eradicate this disease.

"Vaccine was not there when I was in government, if it was, it was not brought to my notice because then we would have had a policy, now we should appeal to government at national and State levels to have a policy for this particular type of things, which is eradicating this decease which is preventable and which is treatable. That must be part of our responsibility as ambassadors.

"Polio was not left to government alone, but the first thing that was done was the policy, government had a policy and government used all the available means - traditional rulers, native doctors, women, community leaders, civil societies, development partners, private sector and every resource available even vaccine manufacturers, we used all the available resources.

"What gladdens my heart initially is that, cervical cancer is not like malaria and the reason why we haven't made much in success in fight against malaria, is that it is something that affects the temperate zones of the world.

"But this one (cervical cancer), it affects black and white, so they will make sure that whatever research they are making, is focused on women all over the world.

"But our own scientists have their own role to play, because there maybe variants of the virus that are particular to our own people. And if that is the case we have to get the vaccine that will deal with our own variants of this virus.

"We should make it clear that the vaccine is free of any adverse effect and in fact, rather than stop children production, it encourage it. 

"Wherever I go now, I will talk cervical cancer. 

"I do hope that in our policy or whatever we do, we should also have a timeline something that will give us incentive to say we want to achieve this at such and such a time and then we move on in that".

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