By Victor Chijioke
A professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Lagos, Professor Rose Ihuoma Anorlu, has charged the government at all levels to prioritize awareness, vaccination and access to cervical cancer care in Nigeria.
Professor Anorlu made this call as part of the recommendations she gave in her inaugural lecture titled “So Deadly, So Preventable: The Quest to Conquer Cervical Cancer”.
The Inaugural lecture — the second (2nd) for the 2023/2024 academic session of the University of Lagos — was delivered on Wednesday, October 4, 2023, at the J.F. Ade Ajayi Auditorium.
Addressing the array of guests comprising relations, friends from the teaching and non-teaching cadres, professional colleagues, mentees, well-wishers and admirers, the inaugural lecturer shared insights into her sojourn as a junior doctor in the 1980s, which afforded her first-hand experience of the devastating impact of cervical cancer and therefore ignited her interest in the field.
Prof Anorlu, who is also an Honorary Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), gave details of her works on cervical cancer which covers awareness and education about the disease, cervical cancer screening, and the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination.
She expressed concerns over the present state of limited awareness about cervical cancer and its prevention in Nigeria, as proven in research which shows that less than 8 percent of Nigerian women have been screened for cervical cancer, and that many are unaware of HPV and HPV vaccination.
Prof Anorlu urged the government to make the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines available and at no cost to both adolescent boys and girls, just as efforts should be made to produce the vaccines locally.
Furthermore, she advocated for increased budgetary allocation to the newly established National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment to facilitate more research and training in cancer care.
In addition, she called for cervical cancer screening, treatment of precancerous lesions, and follow-up care to be provided free of charge to all eligible women.
Professor Anorlu’s impact on the field of cancer research extends to training future generations of gynaecologists specializing in the treatment of gynaecological cancers in Nigeria.
Currently, she heads the Oncology and Pathological Studies Unit of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the University of Lagos.