In a concerning revelation, Dr. Azim Adekunle Ashimi, Chairman of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) in Ogun State, disclosed that a staggering 33 women in Nigeria develop cervical cancer daily, with 22 tragically losing their lives to the disease.
Speaking at the launch of the 2023 Physicians Week held at the Doctors’ House in Lukosi, Abeokuta, Ogun State on Monday, October 23, 2023, Dr. Ashimi shed light on the pressing issue of cervical cancer affecting Nigerian women.
Dr. Ashimi emphasized that annually, Nigeria records approximately 12,000 new cases of cervical cancer, resulting in around 8,000 fatalities.
This alarming statistic means that every day, on average, 33 women in the country are diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 22 of them succumb to this devastating disease.
He pointed out that a significant proportion of cervical cancer cases, approximately 70%, are attributable to previous infections with the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) strains 16 and 18, while HPV strains 6 and 11 are responsible for up to 90% of genital warts.
To combat this growing health crisis, Dr. Ashimi announced that Tuesday, October 24, 2023, marks a pivotal day for Nigeria and Ogun State, as it signifies the commencement of the administration of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to young girls aged 9 to 14.
This vaccination program aims to protect them from future cervical cancer risks, with Dr. Ashimi emphasizing that cervical cancer is the only known vaccine-preventable cancer globally.
The NMA Chairman urged parents and guardians to ensure that their daughters between the ages of 9 and 14 receive the HPV vaccine, effectively preventing the possibility of cervical cancer in their future.
He stated that by ensuring these vaccines are administered, the preventable suffering and loss of lives could be curtailed.
Furthermore, Dr. Ashimi assured that when the vaccines become available, they will also be offered to boys in the future.
The HPV vaccines will be accessible at all public health facilities across Ogun State, including Primary Health Centers, General and State Hospitals, OOUTH Sagamu, and Federal Medical Center Abeokuta, starting from the morning of Tuesday, October 24, 2023.
Dr. Ashimi called upon the media and the community to rally behind this vital initiative, raising awareness about the critical importance of HPV vaccination in safeguarding the health and lives of young girls in Nigeria.
In a press conference held to kick off the 2023 Physicians Week, the Chairman of the NMA in the State, addressed several critical issues, including budget allocation, organ donation, the “Japa syndrome,” assaults on doctors, the state of the health sector, data collection, and the doctor-to-patient ratio.
On Budget Allocation for Health, Dr. Ashimi emphasized the importance of allocating a significant portion of the government budget to health.
He acknowledged the challenges African countries face, such as infrastructure development, education, and security. However, he stressed that good health is the foundation for a prosperous society.
He urged governments to allocate at least 15% of their budgets to health and tackle corruption in the health sector.
On Organ Donation, Dr. Ashimi discussed the broad concept of organ donation, highlighting the advancements in medical science that have made it possible to donate various organs, including kidneys, livers, lungs, and even eyes.
He teased that a speaker during the Physicians Week conference would delve deeper into this topic.
On Japa Syndrome” and Insecurity, he noted that insecurity was a major reason why doctors were leaving Nigeria.
He pointed out that the fear of kidnapping and violence had taken a toll on the healthcare system.
Dr. Ashimi mentioned the cases of missing doctors and urged the government to prioritize addressing the security concerns to retain healthcare professionals.
On assault on Doctors, Dr. Ashimi condemned assaults on healthcare workers and reaffirmed the NMA’s commitment to protecting its members.
He encouraged individuals with grievances to use appropriate channels to voice their concerns rather than resorting to violence.
Assessing Health Sector in Ogun State,the NMA Chairman discussed the challenges faced by the health sector in the State, highlighting inadequate infrastructure, financial constraints, and the need to retain healthcare manpower.
He appreciated the efforts of the State government but called for more significant investments in healthcare to ensure the state’s residents receive adequate care.
On data Collection, Dr. Ashimi recognized the evolving nature of data collection in the healthcare sector and the need for real-time updates. He mentioned ongoing projects to improve data collection processes to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
On Doctor-to-Patient Ratio, he drew attention to the concerning doctor-to-patient ratio in Nigeria, far below the World Health Organization’s ideal of 1 doctor to 600 patients.
With fewer than 40,000 doctors serving a population of 210 million, this disparity has led to unqualified individuals attempting to fill the healthcare gap, which Dr. Ashimi referred to as “quacks.” He stressed the urgency of closing this gap to ensure quality healthcare for all.
Dr.Ashimi’s address at the Physicians Week press conference shed light on the critical issues facing the Nigerian healthcare system and called for immediate action and investment to address these challenges for the betterment of both healthcare professionals and the general population.
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