By Muizat Hameed
A Nigerian medical doctor, Dr. Idris Ola , during an interview with Punch Newspaper on Thursday, has said that some forms of cancer can be prevented later in life if vaccines are taken seriously.
Dr. Ola, a medical doctor with years of experience in cancer prevention and control in Nigeria, who is also the co-founder and Executive Director of the Women’s Cancer Prevention and Support for African Society, stated the possibility of preventing cancers if everybody gets vaccinated against hepatitis B and C.
“Immunization is increasingly becoming a vital mechanism for cancer prevention. Hepatitis B and C vaccines can prevent infections with these viruses and subsequently prevent the development of cancer in life,” he said.
Though there are several factors implicated in the development of cancer, he said focusing on the controllable ones can to an extent, decrease the incidence of cancer in individuals. Factors such as excessive weight gain, cigarette smoking, excessive alcohol intake, consuming high fat diets and contacting some infectious agents may increase the chances of having cancer.
“Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine for young boys and girls, ages between 11 and 13 has also helped in preventing the development of cervical cancer.” , he added, while confirming the study that showed that HPV cancer among teenage girls who received the vaccine had been reduced by 86 percent.
He however mentioned that those who miss the HPV vaccine at that age range still have a chance to get immunized till age of 26.
When asked about biological ways to curing cancers, Dr. Ola said that there has been no proven study which ascertains the effectiveness of any biological form of treating cancers. He added that most of those who chose that method end up in the hospital when unfortunately the cancers had become almost incurable.
“From my experience, it amounts to total waste of time, money and eventual loss of lives. Most people come to hospitals having tried all sorts of biological agents in various forms of healing system – faith healing, traditional healing, among others. But the results have always been the same: no improvement and in most cases, worsening of symptoms. At this point most people tend to return to hospitals for medical care when though it’s sometimes too late.”
Dr. Ola therefore frowned at the state of treatment in most Nigerian hospitals and complained about the exorbitant fees required to undergo a successful cancer treatment in Nigeria. Stating that the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) is grossly inadequate and covers less than five percent of the total population.
However, he said there is a glimpse of hope as the Federal Ministry of Health launched the ‘Chemotherapy Access Partnership’ in Abuja, aimed at making essential cancer medications affordable. The program will be running at seven centres which are: National Hospital, Abuja; University College Hospital, Ibadan; Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile-Ife; Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Kaduna; Lagos University Teaching Hospital; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; and Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano.