A free Cervical Cancer screening, testing and treatment campaign was on Friday flagged off in Anambra State by the Wife of the Governor of Anambra State, Mrs Nonye Soludo.
The free exercise is run through a partnership with World Health Organization (WHO), the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) and the Anambra State Ministry of Health.
WHO and CHAI would be providing logistical and technical support for the pilot phase of the programme which would cover 5,000 Anambra women of reproductive age.
The initiative which will last for 6 months, will have its services available at 10 health facilities across the state.
They include, the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University Teaching Hospital, COOUTH, Amaku-Awka, General Hospital Umueri, General hospital Enugwu-ukwu, General Hospital Ekwulobia, Ichi Referral Center, Primary Health Centre, PHC Enugwu-otu, PHC Enugwu-abor, Ufuma, PHC Nanka, PHC Akwaeze and PHC Nkwelle-Umunnachi.
Performing the flag off, Mrs Soludo, who is a Cervical Cancer Champion, commended the health partnership, and urged women to make themselves available for the exercise at designated hospitals.
The Governor’s wife pointed out that early diagnosis remains the most important step in eradicating the killer disease, and said with the exercise having been tailored to have wide spread, she is optimistic it will bear good results.
“We want the Transition Committee Chairmen wives to take the message down to the grassroots.
“Cervical Cancer is the fourth most prevalent type of cancer in women worldwide.
“A deficient healthcare system, a lack of screening guidelines and unreliable diagnostic tools are the key contributors to the disease’s high fatality rate.
“The CHAI and the WHO have agreed to support us to provide these services free to our women.
“The onus is on us to ensure that we take advantage of this opportunity to bring the incidence of Cervical cancer to its barest minimum in our dear state,” Mrs Soludo opined.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Anambra State Commissioner for Health, Dr Afam Obidike, said that if discovered early, a woman has 90% chance of being cured, noting that the programme has been brought directly to the people, especially those at the grassroots.
He said the programme would be sustained after the first phase, noting that women who are captured in the Anambra State Health Insurance Scheme, would have access to designated testing and treatment hospitals.
“I want to say that the Soludo administration has taken issues of health very seriously and what we are doing today is part of that commitment.
“I want to commend the governor’s wife for her support to the programme, as well the health partners who are leading the maiden campaign,” he said.
On his part, the South East Zonal Coordinator of WHO, Dr Chukwumuanya Igboekwu, revealed that three hundred thousand deaths occurred globally in 2018 alone as a result of cervical cancer, with low-income countries being the worst hit.
According to him, by accepting to lead the front in the campaign, the governor’s wife has reflected the determination of Anambra State government to tackle cervical cancer head-on.
He said that Anambra State is leading the way in national health reforms, pointing out that Anambra State Health Insurance Agency, ASHIA, stands as a reference point for heath development.
Igboekwu stated; “Today, is a great day for the people and government od Anambra state.
“It also points to the fact that Anambra is a state that is moving ahead.
“What the state government has achieved with ASHIA, which is a child of reforms, is something that if government of Soludo can invest in, will help improve access to quality health to the people.
“We know we are safe when young women and girls can get access to Cervical cancer screening and the from what we have see today, there is indeed strong political will to addressing health challenges in the state.”
The Anambra State Coordinator of WHO, Dr Adamu Abdulnasir and his CHAI counterpart, Dr Olusegun Olowale, said the collaboration with Anambra State has been effective, with the state government providing its share of the counterpart funding for each partnership projects, the cervical cancer campaign included.
The governor’s wife and wife of the deputy governor, Mrs Oluchi Ibezim after symbolically receiving the equipment for the exercise from the partners, also ran a demonstration of the cervical cancer screening process.
The Commissioner for Special Duties, Barrister Sly Ezeokenwa, the Executive Secretary of Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, the Executive Secretary of Anambra State Health Insurance Agency, ASHIA, Dr Simeon Onyemaechi, among others, attended the flag off.