From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Enugu

As cancer continues to ravage women’s breasts, the executive director, Emeka Okwuosa Foundation, Hon. Azuka Okwuosa, has called for collaboration to fight the disease, which has dealt devastating blows to families and homes in Nigeria.

He said breast cancer would not be killing Nigerian women in their numbers as it had been doing if detected early and treated.

Speaking in Enugu when he chaired the inauguration of the Keeping Hope Abreast Initiative by Modern Diagnostic Centre, Okwuosa, who noted that cancer prevention was better than cure, stressed that, “The major problems we have today in our society are ignorance and poverty and also lack of government support in curbing this national malady.”

“My association with this particular project is borne out of the fact that I strongly believe that the only way we can solve this problem is for us to come together as individuals, we can’t leave everything for government to do, but at the same time we need government support. If we do it collectively, we can solve a major problem,” he said.

Lamenting the number of lives lost to breast cancer, Okwuosa stated that breast cancer was a serious problem in Africa, especially Nigeria, and: “The only way we will do it is, we know that most government health institutions are no longer functional due to poor funding, among other things; so, by going into this initiative, which is a simple thing on the surface but a very bold attempt by Hon. Agatha, I believe that we can work together and try to reach as many women as possible so that we make sure we can have early detection and solve this problem.

“By doing so, we will be saving lives of potential stars in this country, which are people with knowledge that can take this country to the next level. It is a general problem and every seriousness must be attached to it.

“The level of ignorance, the level poverty and the nonchalant attitude by various administrations and governments in the country have actually created a major problem in trying to solve this particular issue. But with this initiative, which is a step in the right direction, we will go a long way, through the goodwill of the invitees at this occasion.”

Earlier, the founder/chief executive officer of Keeping Hope Abreast, Hon. Rita Mbah, said the initiative had concluded plans to screen no fewer than 2,000 women in Enugu for breast cancer-related diseases.

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Mbah, a former commissioner in Enugu State, said her foundation would be providing care and support for cancer patients and survivors, adding that the mission was to save lives and reduce mortality due to breast cancer through orchestrating early detection efforts.

Noting that she was using the initiative to join the global movement on the Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mbah said, having come across different women who were positive for breast cancer after mammography in her diagnostic centre, she set up the initiative to ensure that more awareness, better cancer prevention, treatment and care become a health priority among women.

She disclosed that the initiative had already registered and booked more than 500 women for free screening, from October 11 and till the end of the year.

“Over the years, I have nursed the desire to provide a platform that will ease access to knowledge and other resources to deal with breast cancer, as part of my contributions in changing the ugly narrative of the devastating impact of breast cancer scourge, especially among less privileged and vulnerable women.

“Cancer has been one of mankind’s most challenging diseases and is a leading cause of death worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, cancer accounted for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020. Alarmingly, among the most common cases in 2020 (in terms of new cases of cancer), breast cancer leads, accounting for 2.2 million.

“The above scenario presents a chilling reality. It is a reality due largely to ignorance, illiteracy, poverty and financial inequalities.

“It is against the above background that my desire to emplace a framework for pooling resources to reach disadvantaged women in our society and to promote greater knowledge and awareness about breast cancer became a passion.”

Some of the invitees donated funds to increase the number of women to benefit from the free cancer screening.