Contribute to health care through volunteering, Akeredolu’s wife tells medical students


Ondo State Governor’s wife, Chief Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has advised Nigerian medical students to take inspiration from their American counterparts in contributing to better health services through volunteering to reduce the prevalence of non-communicable diseases in the country. country.

The first lady gave advice during the 8th Regional Convention of the Nigerian Medical Students Association (NiMSA), held at Afe Babalola Ado-Ekiti University (ABUAD)

Akeredolu, who spoke at the top of the ‘Revitalizing the Role of Medical Students in Breast Cancer Advocacy’ list as a guest speaker at the event, denounced the high cost of cancer care and claimed that “Volunteering in breast cancer advocacy, performing a clinical breast examination and providing psychosocial support by the NiMSA would go a long way towards early detection and, therefore, reduce the burden of cancer.

According to her, “students in the medical field have proven to be instrumental in a number of public health victories. A study (Shibu, 2021) noted how medical students in the United States of America volunteered as frontline workers when school was closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Interestingly, even when school resumed classes, a good number continued to volunteer in their frontline roles due to their “internal motivation and external pressure from a health care environment. strained health.

Ms. Akeredolu, who founded the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) twenty-five years ago, further encouraged students to volunteer with some advocacy groups like BRECAN, adding that “you can also provide voluntary service in primary health care centers where doctors Doctors are in short supply. »

She further encouraged the establishment of a clinic run by medical students to care for underserved populations and the homeless, as exemplified in the United States.

The founder of BRECAN, who revealed the WHO 2020 statistics of 26,000 new cases of breast cancer in Nigeria with an estimated 11,500 deaths per year, identified late detection, presentation and poor health services as major causes of the increased burden of disease in Nigeria.

She also identified the lack of political will for cancer care and insufficient radiotherapy centers as other factors contributing to its prevalence and morbidity in Nigeria, compared to countries like Morocco and India which were both classified as low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria.


She said, “Although Nigeria has a National Cancer Control Plan, it has yet to be implemented and domesticated at state and local government levels. Radiation therapy is an important treatment option for cancer patients, but it is not generally available in Nigeria; while Morocco, with a population of around 32 million, has 17 functional radiotherapy centers in 2014.

“The federal government has yet to launch a routine campaign to raise awareness of any form of cancer. The majority of cancer awareness is organized by non-governmental organizations working around cancer.

The guest speaker called for a holistic approach to breast cancer programming, noting that raising awareness without addressing the issue of patient navigation and quality cancer care services would render raising awareness almost useless.

“Obviously, reducing the burden of cancer requires the effort of an adequate amount of human resources, but only a few staff and organizations are working in the Nigerian cancer space.

“The work of advocacy and patient navigation is all but abandoned for NGOs that have very little or no funds to fulfill their mission; while diagnosis and treatment are left to the very few remaining oncologists in the country who barely have the resources to work,” she said.

She lamented the insufficiency of population-based cancer registries in Nigeria, which she said made it quite impossible to understand the cancer needs in the country.

The governor’s wife expressed concern about the huge brain drain of high-level medical personnel and therefore stressed the need to use the plethora of medical students to save the health system from the dusk. country.

She urged students to take an interest in the specialty of oncology, saying it would be difficult to do much in the field of cancer if young health care providers were not interested in cancer care. .

“There is a need for the government to create pull factors for oncology specialty by investing more in cancer care infrastructure and encouraging the specialty,” Ms Akeredolu added.

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Contribute to health care through volunteering, Akeredolu’s wife tells medical students


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