Dr Olumuyiwa Ojo, an official of the World Health Organisation (WHO), says elimination of cervical cancer, a deadly disease that affects more than 14,000 women annually in Nigeria, is possible.
Cervical cancer causes 8,000 deaths annually due to late presentation at health facilities, making it the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women aged 15 to 44 years in Nigeria.
Ojo said this in a presentation on “ Global Call to Action on Elimination of Cervical Cancer as a Public Health Problem’’ at a Virtual National Stakeholders’ Forum on the Elimination of Cervical Cancer.
The Forum was organised by the National Cancer Control Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the John Hopkins, Bloomberg School of Public Health, International Vaccine Access Centre and Direct Consulting and Logistics.
Ojo, Focal Point for Maternal, Sexual and Reproductive Health Programme with WHO said some diseases had already been eradicated globally.
“We have been able to eradicate smallpox, eradicate guinea worm, and we are on our way to eradicating polio and cervical cancer; it is one of the cancers that we can actually eliminate in our time,’’ he said.
Speaking on the global picture, he said most countries that were affected by cervical cancer were countries in sub-Saharan Africa, and in South East Asia.
“These are the countries that we have a high level of poverty; they are countries in the lower-income cadre, so cervical cancer is now seen as a disease showing how poor people are.
“It is cancer we can eliminate in our own time, we have all the tools, we know much about the disease and we know what to do.
“All we need to do is put the more political will and more investment to achieve this. We have a Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine.
“We also know about Pap smear, and the good thing is that we have almost 20 or 30 years to prevent cancer from manifesting.’’
According to him, in May 2018, there was a global call for the elimination of Cervical Cancer at the World Health Assembly.
Ojo told the forum that Nigeria was the only government institution that supported other partners to make the call, saying: “ it is very important for us to sustain the political will.
“In January 2019, at the WHO Executive Board meeting, more than 70 countries supported the decision to develop a global strategy to accelerate cervical cancer elimination.
“The meeting mandated the WHO Director-General to develop a global strategy to accelerate cervical cancer elimination with the timeline of 2020 to 2030.
“May 2020, the World Health Assembly was to look at the strategy and to be ratified by member states, but COVID-19 happened and the meeting was done virtually.’’
Speaking on the main backing for the global call for countries, the official said that the strategy for the elimination of the disease hinged on four questions:
“What will the cervical cancer threshold be to achieve elimination as a public health problem?
“What combination of screening, vaccination and cancer management strategy can meet the elimination?
“What should be the target for these three levels of prevention and when can the elimination be reached, as well as what is the most effective strategy to reach the elimination?’’
He said the world was moving up towards the elimination of the disease and the idea was to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem.
“By elimination, we may have one or two incidences of the disease, but it becomes less and less of public health problem.
“The next level, if we achieve elimination, is eradication; right now we are working towards that.
“For every dollar that is invested in the elimination strategy, according to modelling done by WHO and partners, 3.2 dollars is the economic return of the investment for the world and the country,” Ojo said.
In addition, the official spoke on the three strategies on the elimination of cervical cancer.
“The first one is the primary prevention, which is to immunise 90 per cent of girls from 15 years of age with HPV vaccine by 2030.
“The second target is screening, 70 per cent of women between 35 and 45 years to be screened by 2030; and the 3rd strategy targets 90 per cent of women with cervical cancer to receive treatment and care.
“We need to invest more in pathology, surgical oncology, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and palliative care. So with all these strategies implemented, elimination of cervical is possible Nigeria,’’ he said.
NLNG donates $150,000 medical equipment to Bayelsa
The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Limited has donated medical equipment worth $150,000 to the Bayelsa State Government in order to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
Receiving the medical items from the NLNG delegation, Governor Douye Diri, represented by the Deputy Chief of Staff, Dr Peter Akpe, said the NLNG gesture would strengthen the existing relationship between the state and the organisation, considering the huge gas deposits being exploited in the state.
In a statement by his Acting Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, the governor said the ongoing fight against the spread of the pandemic could be reduced to its barest minimum if all hands, including organisations like the NLNG, partnered government as part of their corporate social responsibility.
The NLNG General Manager, External Relations, Mrs Iyono Fatai-Williams, said the donation was part of the NNPC – oil industry joint intervention to support the state Ministry of Health and the Niger Delta University Teaching Hospital in the fight against the pandemic.
Fatai-Williams expressed optimism that the virus would be managed and contained through concerted effort of all and the gas industry, which is determined to make their host communities a better place.
She said the donation, includes ventilators, defrebilators, infusion pumps and oxygen concentrators.
New study shows women’s eggs prefer some men’s sperm over others
According to a new study, a woman’s eggs may be selective towards sperm cells and prefer some over the others.
The study carried out by Stockholm University, in partnership with the Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust (MFT) looked into the chemicals used by a female egg to attract male sperm and results show that a woman’s eggs may prefer sperm cells of some men to others.
“Human eggs release chemicals called chemoattractants that attract sperm to unfertilized eggs. We wanted to know if eggs use these chemical signals to pick which sperm they attract,” said John Fitzpatrick, an associate professor at Stockholm University.
The study specifically looked at follicular fluid, which surrounds the eggs and contains the chemicals that attract sperm.
The study checked if the fluids from different women attracted certain sperm more than others and the result showed it does. The research team obtained anonymous egg and sperm samples from couples undergoing IVF at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester.
“Follicular fluid from one female was better at attracting sperm from one male, while follicular fluid from another female was better at attracting sperm from a different male,” said Professor Fitzpatrick.
“This shows that interactions between human eggs and sperm depend on the specific identity of the women and men involved.”
It seems that even if a woman has chosen a partner to mate with, it’s not a must her egg and his sperm will attract each other according to the study.
According to Professor Fitzpatrick, sperm have only one job which is to fertilise the eggs. So they won’t be choosy about which egg they fertilise.
The study suggests that eggs have evolved and now pick high quality or genetically compatible sperm.
“The idea that eggs are choosing sperm is really novel in human fertility’ said Professor Daniel Brison, the scientific director of the Department of Reproductive Medicine at Saint Mary’s.
“Research on the way eggs and sperm interact will advance fertility treatments and may eventually help us understand some of the currently ‘unexplained’ causes of infertility in couples.”
How abuse of painkillers can lead to infertility – Gynaecologist
A Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Abosede Lewu, on Monday urged young women to stop abuse or consistent use of Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), also known as painkillers to prevent infertility.
Lewu, Convener, Keep All Mothers Alive (KAMA) Project, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka that the consistent use of NSAIDs had negative effects on women’s menstrual cycle and ovulation.
She described NSAIDs or painkillers, as members of a drug class that reduces pain, decreases fever, prevents blood clots and in higher doses, decreases inflammation.
“Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) have also been implicated in infertility. The consistent use or abuse of these drugs prevent ovulation and lower progesterone levels in young women.
“It prevents follicle from breaking to release egg, and when egg is not released, there is nothing to fertilise by the sperm.
“Painkillers work mostly by blocking a particular pathway. This pathway is needed to achieve ovulation if blocked, a ripe follicle may not ovulate leading to Luteinised Unruptured Follicle (LUF) or other mild dysfunction,’’ she said.
Lewu said consistent use of NSAIDs or painkillers should be discouraged among women trying to get pregnant.
She urged young women to consult a physician for proper prescription, timing and restrictions before using painkillers.
“For those using painkillers for few days for menstrual pain, you have already ovulated before the period, so except your cycle is very short. NSAIDs should not affect your menses, ovulation and fertility.
“For those using NSAIDs consistently for other medical conditions, they are more at risk treating underlying cause. They need to find an alternative drug or therapy.
“There are other groups of analgesics that can be used in place of NSAIDs. If NSAID are to be used, it should be prescribed, timed and restricted. So, stop NSAIDs abuse,” she warned.
The gynaecologist also urged women to visit a doctor when they experienced ovulation or menstrual disorders and fertility issues, saying that there are other causes aside painkillers.
“Pls note, if you have ovulation or menstrual disorders and fertility issues, you cannot assume it is only NSAIDs, consult a specialist,’’ she advised.
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