Lagos - The National Cancer Prevention Programme (NCPP), has appealed to all tiers of government to make budgetary provisions for vaccines to protect people against cancers.
Dr Kin Egwuonwu, the National Coordinator of NCPP, made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Monday in Lagos on the occasion of the 2013 World Cancer Day.
Egwuonwu said that the vaccines would protect cancers of the anus, penis, scrotum, conjunctiva of the eye, skin, and nose.
He also advised the private sector to allocate part of their budget toward the vaccination of their members of staff.
``Organisations that are not so financially buoyant can provide the vaccine and then, allow their staff to spread repayment over a period of time by instalment,’’ he said.
According to Egwuonwu, the three tiers of government can provide the vaccination for people at no cost, by putting it as part of their health budget.
The coordinator said government should come in because not many Nigerians could afford the vaccine.
``There are some countries where the vaccine is paid for by the government-- up front.
``In some countries, if somebody has cancer, it is the government that will take care of that person,’’ Egwuonwu told NAN.
He said that it was better for government to spend money on the vaccines, and prevent cancers, than to spend the money treating the disease.
``I still say that government should consider providing vaccines regularly for people at either no cost, or at a reduced cost,’’ he said.
Egwuonwu said that there were four main types of the virus that cause cancers, adding that those four main types were types 16, 6, 11 and 18.
He suggested that the vaccines should be administered from the age of nine and above, for both male and female.
The coordinator said that, ``it is more important for use in young people because the benefit reduces, once people start becoming sexually active, especially after 45 years of age.
``Some studies have shown that if you have the virus, the vaccine will protect the virus from advancing and if you don’t have the virus, it will prevent you from having it’’, Egwuonwu said.
He explained that the vaccine was more useful in women because some of them were prone to cancer of the cervix.
``Men can also have cancer of the penis, scrotum and so on, though it is not as common as that of the cervix, ‘’ he said.
To avoid cancer, Egwuonwu advised against smoking, excessive alcohol and abstinence from junk foods.
He suggested that Nigerians should eat healthy foods and exercise regularly.
``These things are still important, even when you take the vaccines.
"The vaccines give you protection from the virus which causes so many cancers,’’ Egwuonwu said.
The World Cancer Day is marked every Feb. 4.