The Niola Cancer Care Foundation (NCCF) has called on Nigerians who substitute healthcare for prayers, not to despise the importance of regular checkups if they hope to prevent cancer.
Speaking during the third edition of NCCF's campaign against cancer, tagged IJOYA 3.0 in Lagos recently, she said many Nigerians were very religious people who neglect medical advice and prefers to pray against sickness.
She said: "I am also a Christian and I believe in prayers, but while you are praying, also go for checkup. My late husband was a loving Christian and a dedicated worker in church, yet we lost him to cancer. With checkups, healthy diets and regular exercise, we can prevent cancer.
"Eating unhealthy foods can cause damage to the body. Nigeria has a cancer epidemic, so government, should do more. I am glad now we have closed some borders because Nigeria is a dumping ground for foods we don't need.
"Farmers should be encouraged to farm while on our part, we should go back to eating natural foods, vegetables, fruits, yam, bitter leaf, among others," she said.
She said the campaign took the form of dance and exercise because Nigerians were lovers of dance, and that as they dance and exercise, talks on the prevention of cancers were being dished out while also providing screening services for participants.
She decried that the Nigerian government has not taken cancer management and treatment seriously, adding that in a country of over 200 million people, only about three cancer machines exist.
"Health and education should be government's priority. The media should also dedicate time to talk about organic and natural foods as part of campaigns to prevent cancer.
"This was what the media was doing when AIDS just came up. Participants at the campaign are screened for Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), breast examination, cervical cancer test, among others."
On her part, the First Lady of Niger State, Dr. Amina Abubakar described the campaign as apt, adding that if Nigerians can engage in regular exercise, healthy living and medical checkups, the indices on cancer will drop in the country.
Abubakar, who is the founder of Raise Foundation said hope was not lost on cancer management in Nigeria, adding that the federal government was making efforts to address the situation.
"In Niger State for instance, we are working towards getting our own cancer centre soon. The Niola Cancer Foundation is drawing attention to what Nigerians can do on our own to prevent cancer. With good nutrition and regular exercise, we can prevent cancer from coming," she added.