As 23 women in Nigeria die from cervical cancer daily, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), some health experts have called for the engagement of girls and women to eradicate the disease in the country.
The experts spoke at the grand finale of the “4 Girls and Women Innovation Bootcamp” organised to promote vaccination and screening for cervical cancer across the country.
The programme was in collaboration with the Nigeria Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Saint Louis University and the University of North Carolina both in the U.S.
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 (HPV).
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.
According to Mr Ezechi, 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 a difference in the fight against 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, which would last for six months, would be presented to the Ministry of Health for possible adoption to eradicate the disease.
Speaking also, a Professor of Medicine from North Carolina in the U.S., Joseph Tucker, said the project would be a cutting-edge one for cervical cancer prevention in Nigeria.
Mr 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.
Speaking also, Juliet Iwelunmor 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 in-law 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 vaccinated and women screened to prevent women from dying,” he said.
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.
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