Cancer kills more people than COVID-19, says commissioner

Lara Adejoro


The Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, says cancer takes the lives of more people than COVID-19 and yet it does not get the same attention as the latter.


Prof. Abayomi stated this in a post on his Instagram handle @profakinabayomi on Thursday.


He said cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus similar to COVID-19 and has many variants, thus presenting a biosecurity threat to the environment.


According to the World Health Organisation, cervical cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women


Abayomi wrote “It was my pleasure to attend the Press Conference on Cervical Cancer-Free Nigeria Campaign. The Conferences was hosted by the Former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo on his appointment as the Presidential Ambassador for the campaign,


“I’m highly honoured to have been invited to such an important event aimed at addressing a disease that is rampant among women and in most cases leads to high mortality.


“Despite the fact that the disease is preventable and can be treated, it continues to take the lives of more people than COVID-19 and yet still does not get the same attention as the latter.


“Cervical cancer is caused by the Human Papilloma Virus similar to COVID-19 and has many variants thus presenting a biosecurity threat to our environment.”


The commissioner emphasised the important role which the Presidential Ambassador to the campaign can play to encourage scientists and researchers to identify the variants that affect us most in this environment and target such variants for more effective and efficient management.


“It imperative to reiterate that it is not good enough for vaccines to be produced outside of the shores of the country without the involvement of our scientists and researchers.


“There is the need for local studies documenting the effects of these vaccines on our people before widespread inoculations are carried out. This has become important as Nigeria considers local production of vaccines,” he said.


Abayomi noted that the Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Tomi Coker who was at the Conference was impressed with the idea of a campaign geared towards finding solutions to cervical cancer in Nigeria. 


WHO said cervical cancer develops in a woman’s cervix (the entrance to the uterus from the vagina) and almost all cervical cancer cases (99 per cent) are linked to infection with high-risk HPV, an extremely common virus transmitted through sexual contact.


“Although most infections with HPV resolve spontaneously and cause no symptoms, persistent infection can cause cervical cancer in women.


“In 2018, an estimated 570,000 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer worldwide and about 311 000 women died from the disease.


“Effective primary (HPV vaccination) and secondary prevention approaches (screening for, and treating precancerous lesions) will prevent most cervical cancer cases,” it said.


The UN agency noted that when diagnosed, cervical cancer is one of the most successfully treatable forms of cancer, as long as it is detected early and managed effectively. 


“Cancers diagnosed in late stages can also be controlled with appropriate treatment and palliative care.


“With a comprehensive approach to prevent, screen and treat, cervical cancer can be eliminated as a public health problem within a generation,” it said.


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