Cervical Cancer is the second leading cancer in Nigeria among women (following breast cancer), is preventable if lesion is detected early and is treated before the development of invasive cancer. Unfortunately, the majority of women in low and middle- income countries like Nigeria still do not have easy access to screening services for detection Consequently, cervical cancer remains undetected until it is too late for curative treatment; and the morbidity and mortality from this disease remain high in Nigeria in contrast to marked declines observed in high-income countries. The Cervical Cancer Screening and Preventative Therapy Project (CCS & PT) is a cost-effective approach aimed at addressing these gaps in Nigeria
The CCS & PT project had an end of project dissemination meeting on 15th November, 2017 at the Sandralia Hotel Abuja after a four-year project with one year no cost extension, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that officially ended in October 2017. The project was implemented in Nigeria by three partners – Society for Family Health (SFH), Marie Stopes International of Nigeria (MSION) and Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria (PPFN). The dissemination meeting brought together implementing partners and other key stakeholders to review the achievements, best practices and challenges of the project over the period of implementation.
The meeting commenced with an opening prayer (recitation of the second stanza of the national anthem) anchored by the Master of Ceremony, Dr Bariyu Yusuf. This was followed by the introduction of dignitaries to the high table. The following distinguished individuals graced the high table: Dr David Atuwo, National cancer coordinator, National Cancer Control programme at Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH); Prof Esther Ajuluchukwu, zonal coordinator Southeast zone; Dr Efunsola Sowemimo, Commisioner of Police, Medical Division, Falomo, Lagos; Mr. Nyong Effiong, Country Director of MSION; Sir Bright Ekweremadu, Managing Director of SFH and Mrs. Lami Buba, immediate past president PPFN.
Sir Bright Ekweremadu MD SFH, gave the opening remark. He briefly highlighted the impact of the project in Nigeria – screening and cryotherapy treatment for women, training of partners and donation of cryotherapy machine by the former DMD, Operations, Pharm. Wale Adedeji to a government owned facility in Ogun state. He added “We worked closely with the Federal Ministry of Health through the National Cancer Control Programme Unit, State Ministries of Health in Kebbi, Enugu, Niger and Osun States, The First lady of the Federation, Mrs Aisha Buhari and First Ladies of Kebbi, Cross River, Oyo and Kaduna states religious and community groups politicians and several meaning Nigerians.”
The project was implemented in FCT, Nasawara, Niger, Kaduna, Ebonyi, Imo, Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Benue, Edo, Delta, Anambra, Abia and Bauchi States. The project created demands for cervical cancer services among women in several communities and has trained over five hundred service providers in private and public health facilities across the country on visual inspection of the cervix using acetic acid (VIA) as well as preventative treatment using cryotherapy.
The results of the project were revealed by Dr Peter Entonu Project Director CCS & PT, SFH. His presentation, showed that a total of 390, 390 women of reproductive age accessed screening services with 9,186 of them treated for cervical pre-cancerous lesions using Cryotherapy. The presentation also included some of the challenges that were encountered and how these were overcome. “We recorded over 100% achievements in most of the indicators”. He also pointed out that “the donor has agreed for the cryotherapy machine to be remained in country”. Some success stories from providers, clients and outreach teams were also shared during his presentation. Some beneficiaries – providers and clients – were also given opportunities to speak on how the project had benefitted them.
There was a recurrent call for continuation of the project as the CCS & PT intervention is replicable and scalable nationwide. Dr Peter Entonu had stated that some trained providers in the social franchise networks had committed to continue providing the services. There was also a call to the FMOH, to take up the continuity of this project as it had been immensely beneficial to the populace. Dr. Kayaode Afolabi, Director of Family Health at FMOH, concluded by saying that the Federal Government is already looking into this. He stated that there is already a strategy document for the integration of cervical cancer screening into reproductive health services
By: Ugoh Nkiruka. H