Worried by the death of 23 Nigerian women from cervical cancer daily, experts have urged deeper engagement of the female gender in advocacy and mass enlightenment.
The experts spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria at the grand finale of the “4 Girls and Women Innovation Bootcamp” organised to promote vaccination and screening for cervical cancer across the country.
NAN reports that the programme was in collaboration with the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research, NIMR; Saint Louis University and University of North Carolina both in the United States.
The cancer of the uterine cervix, commonly known as cervical cancer, is the fourth most common cancer among women globally and majorly caused by the Human Papiloma Virus.
Prof. Oliver Ezechi, the Lead Fellow of the programme and Director of Research in NIMR, said the programme was organised to engage girls and women on the best ways to upscale vaccination and screening for cervical cancer.
Ezechi said the disease, which is almost 100 per cent preventable, must be eradicated.
“This is initiated to create adequate awareness and engage girls and women to scale up the awareness on cervical cancer vaccination and screening in the country.
“We took a different approach by engaging girls and women who are mostly affected by cervical cancer to come up with ideas and innovations that will make the difference in the fight againt the disease.
“We received 600 entries across the country but we were able to screen the teams from two stages and camped up to the last seven teams in the finale.
“The seven teams are all winners already because they will go back to the various communities and engage to select 50 girls and 50 women that will receive free HPV vaccine and screening,” he said.
He said that findings from the project that would last for six months will be presented to the Ministry of Health for possible adoption to eradicate the disease.
Professor of Medicine at North Carolina University, U.S., Joseph Tucker said the project would be a cutting edge one for cervical cancer prevention in Nigeria.
Tucker who is also the Co-Principal Investigator of the project said the opportunity of the programme should be seized to promote self sampling for women and vaccination for girls.
“Cervical cancer is killing many women in Nigeria and this is really an important period to for girls and women to be engaged in the fight against the disease by spreading awareness about it,” he said.
Prof. Juliet Iwelumo from Saint Louis University, U.S., said the goal of the project was to end cancer of the cervix in the country.
“We are happy about the finals of this programme and the motive is to put an end to the over 20 women that die from this cancer yearly.
“Two years ago, I lost my inlaw to cervical cancer and it was a devastating experience for my family, no one should die from something that is preventable.
“These young girls and women have been pitching their ideas on how to get more girls vacinnated and women screened to prevent women from dying,” she noted.
NAN reports that Team Project Shade emerged overall winner of the 4G&W Innovation Bootcamp 2023 and with a cash prize of one million naira.
While team Reach Her and Team White were given N750,000 and N500,000 respectively for the second and third positions.