A communiqué issued at the end of the 28th Annual LAPO Development Forum held on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 at the Shehu Musa Yar' Adua International Conference Centre, Abuja.
Theme: Promoting Community-Based Cancer Control Programme in Nigeria: The LAPO-C4 Initiative.
The 28th edition of the Annual LAPO Development Forum was organized by the Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health on Tuesday, October 26th, 2021 at the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua International Conference Centre, Abuja with the theme: "Promoting Community-Based Cancer Control Programme in Nigeria: The LAPO-C4 Initiative." The Forum was chaired by His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR, Immediate Past President, Federal Republic of Nigeria while His Excellency, Chief Mike Ogiadomhe, CFR, former Deputy Governor, Edo State and Chief of Staff to the President served in the capacity of Special Guest of Honour. Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe, CEO, LAPO and Dr Osagie Ehanire, the Honorable Minister of Health, represented by Zainab Shariff, co-hosted the Forum, which drew over 270 delegates from the health sector, Civil Society Organisations, development and government agencies, the academia, religious bodies and women groups with many critical stakeholders joining the programme online. Prof Omokhoa Adeleye, a Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Benin (UNIBEN) and Consultant, Public Health Medicine at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), delivered the keynote address which provided insight into the cancer scourge in Nigeria and LAPO's interventions in the fight to change the narratives. Following exhaustive discussions of key issues generated from the keynote lecture, inputs and contributions from the delegates, the Forum came up with a 10 -point communique as follows:
1. The Forum commended LAPO for sustaining the Annual Development Forum since 1994, delivering a range of financial and non-financial services to over four million Nigerians and for providing over 10,000 Nigerians with gainful employment.
2. The delegates commended the organization for delivering innovative community-based health programmes to over one million vulnerable persons in rural communities across the country between 2015 and September 2021 in the area of HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health, and the successful establishment of the Benin Medical Care (BMC) and Diagnostics Centre inauguarated by the Executive Governor of Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki in 2019.
3. The delegates lauded the innovative implementation of the LAPO-C4 project across the country, which it noted has contributed significantly to the achievement of the National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP 2018-2022) by reaching over 19 million vulnerable individuals with cancer prevention information.
4. The Forum identified inadequate awareness, poor access to screening and referral services, late detection, obnoxious traditional beliefs, unhealthy lifestyle, air pollution and cancer-causing infections as major barriers to effective cancer control in Nigeria, and advocated for public-private partnership as an effective strategy to mitigate the prevalence, morbidity and socio-economic consequences of cancer management in the country.
5. The Forum identified early detection and treatment, self-examination, screening, vaccination, strong referral system, advocacy and health education as a panacea to increasing cancer incidence in Nigeria and therefore canvassed for the establishment of subsidized cancer screening and treatment centres across the country.
6. The Forum acknowledged that the LAPO-C4 model is potent, comprehensible and practicable in the control of cancer in Nigeria and therefore urged Federal and State Ministries of Health to launch their own "community campaign for cancer control" project as a vertical or integrated programme with multilateral collaboration.
7. The Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology should lead the development of an appropriate local technology for the screening, diagnosis, referrals and treatment of cancer ailments in Nigeria.
8. The Forum called for a greater community involvement and engagement in the fight against cancer and its attendant negative effect on community health. Specifically, it advised that cancer prevention initiatives should be incorporated into local festivals and special events to help sensitize community members about the scourge.
9. In line with global trends, the Forum charged the government, corporate organisations and public-spirited individuals to take advantage of the opportunities provided by social network platforms to disseminate cancer control information to the general public including those in hard-to-reach locations. 10. The Forum advocated for research into alternative medicine for cancer control and treatment. Specifically, it emphasized organic foods and natural herbs as a remedy for cancer and other common health challenges affecting Nigerians.
Godwin Ehigiamusoe PhD
Honestus Ayo Obadiora, PhD
Executive Director, LAPO