Many years since it has been identified as one of the deadliest medical conditions the world has seen, cancer remains so potent that it is now responsible for the deaths of thousands of children across the world. This was revealed last Wednesday by the founder and president of Children Living with Cancer Foundation (CLWF), Dr Nneka Nwobi during an event commemorating the International Day of Children Living with Cancer for 2018.
At the event titled ‘Colors of Hope Sit Out’ and held at Relate Africa in Lagos, Dr Nwobi, while offering a background concerning the purpose of the event, said: “Today is February 15 and the day is the International Day of Children Living with Cancer every year and this sit-out is basically to celebrate the day and to create awareness about cancer in children as we look for ways to increase the cure rate in the country. Unfortunately, the cure rate for Nigeria is not fantastic; we have children dying from cancer every day. More than 10 children die as a result of cancer every day.”
According to her, the Child Cancer International (CCI) estimates that up to 100,000 Children die needlessly each year from cancer worldwide because they lack access to optimal treatment. This is about 250 children per day and more than 10 children per hour, with most of the children in sub-Saharan Africa. “Abroad, 8 out of 10 children would survive being struck with cancer but here in Nigeria, less than 2 out of 10 children survive. That is about 20% cure rate here in Nigeria as opposed to 80% in more developed countries of the world,” Nwobi added.
Speaking as members of a panel put together at the event, Mrs Adenike Ogunlesi, Janet Mba-Afolabi and Chief Mrs B. M Fadipe, condemned the state of facilities in Nigeria while they called on government and individuals to show more concern.
“Gone are the days when we used to think cancer was a medical condition for Caucasians as a result of their lifestyles but it is a trend that leadership in Nigeria does not acknowledge. Nigerians leaders do not accept that we have even the most basic of needs to survive in this country. Leadership should not be about you; it is about service to humanity and so CSR is not optional. We must raise a generation that teaches children how to care about other children,” Mrs Ogunlesi, founder and Chief Responsibility Officer of popular Ruff ‘N’ Tumble, said during her remarks.
On her own, Mrs B. M Fadipe, Directress of Pinefield Schools in Lekki, Lagos, who said she met Dr Nwobi 5 years ago through her son, said: “I was shocked to learn of cancer in children. She gave us statistics and we have been in contact since then. There are many things we can do to get involved when it comes to CSR and schools can really do a lot, organisations supporting fashion shows and entertainment shows like Big Brother Naija for instance, can do a lot to support in the area of fighting cancer in children.”
Like the other two, Janet Mba-Afolabi, a foremost journalist, said she was shocked to learn that cancer is affecting children also.
“I have had a first-hand case of a friend who died of breast cancer. We were covering Marwa together at Alausa and she came to confide in me. It was small like a pimple like this but it started growing and we started running around for money,” she said while relating the trauma associated with cancer in adults, let alone in children.
Afolabi further spoke on the essence of using the mass media and social media towards creating more awareness for the project, saying events without media exposure is deemed not to have occurred.
Also speaking at the event was Dr Seye Akinsete, who works with children with cancer at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH). Cancer, according to him, drains victims in many ways, not forgetting the financial and psychological scar it leaves on relatives of the children, either they eventually survive or die. He said along with members of his team, they have had to deal with cases of 179 children living with cancer in the last 30 months.
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