Mothering Sunday or Mother’s Day in Nigeria is the fourth Sunday in Lent. This year, it will fall on the 10th of March. The day, as in most parts of the world, will afford us time to honour and celebrate our mothers with gifts and praise. It will be one opportunity in the year to really make mothers and mother-to-be feel special.
Being a day in Lent, a period in the calendar of some Christian denominations characterized by prayer, penance, repentance, fasting and almsgiving, one could easily make it a very impactful day by raising public awareness and addressing a growing social problem affecting the girl child, who indeed, are the mothers of tomorrow- the Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
HPV is the causative virus of cervical cancer, which is the third most common type of cancer in women globally. Cervical cancer is a cancer that starts in cells on the surface of the cervix, the lower part of a woman’s womb. At the early stages of the cancer, no symptoms show and so it is almost impossible to diagnose without a screening. More so, reckless sexual behaviors multiply the risk of contracting cervical cancer.
At a media briefing in Lagos, Isaac Adewole, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist at the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, said cervical cancer is Nigeria’s second most prevalent form of cancer with about 10,000 cases seen every year. According to him, no fewer than 8000 women will die from cervical cancer every year usually in “a painful, miserable and undignified manner. Unfortunately, 80% of the affected women in Nigeria still present in advance stages when very little could be done to prolong their lives”, he noted.
Given the facts that HPV like HIV is spread through sexual intercourse, and that, young girls especially from low income families are increasingly becoming sexually active from as early as 10 to 12 years old, one should consider creating awareness for this preventable scourge on Mother’s Day.
Cervical cancer is preventable through the administering of HPV vaccines like Gardasil and Cervarix. The vaccines are usually effective for 4 to 6 years and are advisable to administer to girls between 9 and 26. However, the vaccine is expensive, making it largely unreachable to girls from low income families. 0.5ml vaccines could cost between N26,000.00 to N30,000.00.
Statistics show an almost 100percent rise in incidences of cervical cancer in Nigeria by 2030 due to lack of awareness and inaccessibility to the vaccine.
Here is what you can do to stem the tide;
Mobilize Women Groups In Church or at Work. Together we can achieve a lot. Mobilizing funds from your colleagues at work or in church to help pay for vaccines for girls at a nearby public school could help save lives. More often than not, women are very sympathetic to causes that protect other women so you are more likely to achieve success in this noble effort by appealing to them for support.
Start an Awareness Campaign. Plan an event around Mother’s Day to raise awareness of cervical cancer and its prevention. You could have a breakfast meeting for friends, or organize a walk and make T-shirts for participants. The chances that more people will be disposed to help lower the risk of the disease in Nigeria starts with awareness. So do something!
Support an NGO. Make out a donation to a non-governmental organization with a focus on lowering the scourge of cervical cancer in Nigeria. Make this Mother’s Day a good time to write a cheque or pledge your financial support.
Make this Mother’s Day memorable by saving the mothers of tomorrow!