More Nigerians will die of cancer within the next seven years, a study has revealed.
The study, conducted by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Analysis of Non-Communicable Diseases Prevention Policies in Africa Project (ANPPA), spoke of evidence, which point to prevalence of the ailment and others NCDs, like cardiovascular diseases, stroke, and Type II diabetes.
The stakeholders also adopted strategies to accelerate response and guidelines towards formulation of policies and interventions on NCDs.
An expert from the University of Ibadan, Prof. Oladimeji Oladepo, who led the team of researchers, observed that cancer, an NCD, could kill more than malaria and HIV, previously feared for their higher casualties.
He said this was because the country did not have a strong health system to absorb and treat people well.
He said: “Non-communicable diseases kill people, probably more than malaria and HIV put together. So, Nigerians should ensure they do everything to maintain healthy lifestyles by exercising, eating diets that are low in salt, and ensuring they consume less alcohol, or even abstain from alcohol in its entirety.”
Oladepo called for stricter regulatory measures including ban on tobacco products and heavy tax on alcohol.
He said: “Cancer is one of the diseases with rising incidences. According to the World Health Organisation, we had over 800,000 cases of new cancers in Nigeria in 2008. We also know that in Nigeria, we have a tsunami of alcohol consumption, and a toxic combination of tobacco use. So, within the next few years, we are already seeing an increase in the number of people who are having non-communicable diseases.”
National Coordinator, Non-Communicable Diseases, at the Ministry of Health, Nnena Ezeigwe, highlighted some reasons for the problem.
She said: “NCDs are virtually without a cure, extremely expensive to treat, and notorious for causing debilitation, discomfort, morbidity, disability and premature deaths. There is therefore need to address the growing trend.
“It is obvious that globalisation and industrialisation have not only brought about development but have also imposed new lifestyles and risky behaviours, such as unhealthy nutrition, overweight and obesity, lack of physical activity, harmful or excessive alcohol intake and use of tobacco.”