President Muhammadu Buhari; former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan, and ex-Head of State, Gen Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd) Thursday vowed to support any action to curb the spread of cancer in Nigeria.
Speaking at the official launch of the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation and ground breaking ceremony of the Goldcoast Dickson Cancer Centre at Toru Orua, Sagbama local government area of Bayelsa State, all the leaders harped on early detection and treatment as the most viable way to fight the scourge.
Buhari, who was represented by minister-designate, Dr. Chris Ngige, said the centre could be the nucleus of a major health institution to save millions of lives, noting that the foundation should be given the needed support to make the necessary impact.
“The President congratulates you on the step you have taken to set up the Henry Seriake Dickson Foundation to operate the Goldcoast Dickson Cancer Centre, and he describes it as a step in the right direction.
“The President also says the federal government is doing a lot in the effort to prevent cancer, and wishes to inform you that the Federal Government will readily collaborate with centres like yours.
“On a personal note, as a medical doctor, I want to thank you because it gives me joy when I see a non-medical person doing what you are doing now. This centre could be the nucleus of what Nigeria will use to save many lives” Ngige said.Chairman of the occasion, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), stressed that Nigeria was in an urgent need for a well-coordinated action against the disease that was ravaging communities in the country.
In his comments, Obasanjo noted that the effort would go a long way in checking the killer-disease, observing that only those who had come into close contacts with victims of cancer and the traumatic experience would know the magnitude of the pain, anguish and misery being inflicted on the society.
“When you see what cancer does, particularly the excruciating pain the sufferer goes through, you would want to do everything and anything to comfort those who are victims and these are exactly what you are doing.
“Cancer can be managed when if it is diagnosed early. The second thing you say your foundation will be doing is what I call institutional memory, one of the things we are very bad in our country. Keep and maintain records and let them be accessible for those who want to do research or do information. One of the most depressing sites is the national archives. When you go there, you would almost weep and we have to do something about that,” Obasanjo said.
Jonathan, who also spoke during the event, pledged the support of his foundation and agreed that cancer had become a big problem in society.
He recalled how painfully the dreaded disease killed his Special Adviser on Strategy and Documentation, and renowned environmentalist, Mr. Oronto Douglas.
Jonathan said that in spite of the availability of resources and the desire to fight the disease, he painfully watched his aide die because the disease was diagnosed at an advanced stage.
National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus pointed out that when the centre was completed it would help in reducing capital flight on medical tourism.