Project PINK BLUE, a non-profit focused on creating awareness about cancer and providing support as well as hosting fundraising activities for cancer patients in Nigeria, Thursday, presented research findings from its ‘Men on Blue’ project titled: “Prostate Cancer Awareness, Health Behaviors and Attitudes in Nigeria.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Nigerian men resulting in about 13, 078 cases and 5,806 deaths in 2018 alone. Launched in 2017, The ‘Men on Blue’ project is an initiative of Project PINK BLUE which aims to reduce incidences of prostate cancer through the creation of a platform for prostate cancer awareness, screening, research and support in Nigeria.
“Globally, 1 in 8 men are at risk of having prostate cancer in their lifetime, while 1 in 4 black men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer [in their lifetime]; consequently, men of African descent are 70% more likely to develop prostate cancer, with the cost of treatment running into millions, especially when the disease is already at advanced stage. This was what inspired the project: ‘MEN on BLUE’ under which a research and screening exercises for men on prostate cancer was conducted in Nigeria,” said Ajibola Hafees, a consultant urologist at University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, while presenting the research findings at a press conference in Abuja, the Nigerian capital.
Runcie Chidebe, executive director of Project PINK BLUE said the research had mobilized about 3, 000 men aged 35 years and above from across three states in Nigeria – Lagos, Enugu, and the FCT – out of which a total of 1661 men were screened for prostate cancer using prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test; a blood test for measuring the proteins exclusively produced by cancer cells for early detection of cancer.
“There has been so much awareness creation about breast cancer and cervical cancer but there`s no awareness about prostate cancer, that is why we embarked on this [Men on Blue] project so that we can have an insight [on prostate cancer in men] and help proffer solutions to governments in Nigeria,” said Chidebe.
According to the study, about 70% of respondents had incurred out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare services; only 14.5% and 4.2% of the respondents have their healthcare needs covered by health insurance and their organizations, respectively. “This highlights the challenge facing Nigeria`s healthcare system. Our findings reveal that most Nigerian men have to pay for essential health services from their pockets as they do not have insurance cover,” said Chidebe.
He, therefore, called the governments in Nigeria at all levels to make prostate cancer screening mandatory in all public hospitals and ensure health insurance covers some treatments and drugs for prostate cancer patients adding that the government, private sector and individual philanthropists should collectively support prostate cancer awareness campaigns in Nigeria.
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