The LEAH Foundation, an initiative of the wife of the Kwara State Governor, Mrs. Omolewa Ahmed, has appealed to the management of the University of Ilorin to include screening for breast and cervical cancer in the pre-admission medical examination requirement for enrolment of new female students into the university.

 The appeal was made by the Founder of the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Mrs. Ahmed, last Wednesday (February 7, 2018) when she paid a courtesy visit on the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ilorin, Prof. Sulyman Age Abdulkareem, in commemoration of the 2018 World Cancer Day.

Expressing the Foundation's determination to contribute to the global target of a 25% reduction in premature cancer death by year 2025, Mrs. Ahmed disclosed that “LEAH Foundation plans to establish a basic screening centre for breast and cervical cancers in the University Health Centre”.

The Kwara State First Lady pointed out that through the intervention, the foundation would have fulfilled two of the four essential pillars of cancer treatment and care, which are improving the quality of cancer data for public health use as well as increasing the number of people with access to early detection of the killer disease.

She explained that her foundation was committed to creating awareness to ensure that young ladies would present themselves for screening, adding that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has recommended that every child (male and female) from the age of nine should be vaccinated against the deadly virus.

In the continued advocacy for action to be taken by critical stakeholders to nip the disease in the bud, Mrs. Ahmed explained that the Foundation had set up the LEAH Anti-Cancer Club at both secondary and tertiary institutions across the state to reach out to the adolescent and young adults about issues bordering on breast and cervical cancer prevention through education and information.

She said, “Generally, cancer is an epidemic disease that has caused massive morbidity and mortality worldwide. According to the WHO, cancer accounted for 8.8 million deaths in 2015 and the number of new cases is expected to increase to about 70% over the next two decades. Globally, nearly one in six deaths is due to cancer”.

“Breast and cervical cancer are the most common cancers in Africa. Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer and the leading cause of cancer death among women. In Nigeria, an estimated 10,000 new cases of cervical cancer and 8,000 cancer deaths have been recorded among women yearly”, she explained.

Speaking on the World Cancer Day, Mrs. Ahmed noted that “the day is a chance to reflect on what you can do and what I can do, make a pledge and take action. The day brings to the fore the issue of millions of people worldwide facing unequal access to cancer detection, treatment and care services.”

While welcoming the delegation to his office, the Vice-Chancellor said that the University was committed to achieving its mandate on community service through collaborations with relevant stakeholders in the country.

Prof. Abdulkareem, who disclosed that the University team would visit the LEAH Foundation to formalise the agreement, also announced that the institution, through its Clinical Assessment Centre, has invested a lot in the procurement of medical equipment for breast cancer diagnosis.

In his own remarks during the visit, the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the University of Ilorin Governing Council, Dr. Abdullah Jibril Oyekan (MFR), said he was happy that the proposal to collaborate with the institution on cancer reduction in the country came up during his tenure as the Council Chairman.

While hoping and praying for the success of the collaboration, Dr. Oyekan observed that government alone cannot solve serious social health issues in any country.

The Governing Council Chairman, who said it is a good thing that Nigerians are now being alive to their social responsibility to the society, however, commended Mrs. Ahmed for her dedication and commitment to the well being of the people of Kwara State.