Ministerial nominee and vice chancellor of University of Ibadan, Prof Isaac Folorunsho Adewole, has disclosed that the demographic transition of cancer in Africa and Nigeria in particular has shown a rising incidence that could lead to an epidemic in the nearest future.
Adewole made this disclosure yesterday when he appeared before the Senate for screening after been nominated a minister by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said while relating cancer to old age, that, “Cancer is something that we have to deal with. We are talking about the burden of communicable diseases in Nigeria. But we are also looking at another aspect, looking at the demographic transition of this country, we are living longer, getting obese, exercising less and cancer is specifically a disease of the old age. And when we look at this demographic transition and the rising incidence of cancer, it is on the increase for Africa. So, this country must be prepared for a potential epidemic in the coming years.
He, however, made a case for the establishment of special hospitals that will cater for cancer cases, enlightenment on signs of cancer as it can be prevented when detected early, and went ahead to urge Nigerians to utilise the availability of preventive vaccines.
Speaking on the role of abortion in maternal mortality in Nigeria, the professor, who is a specialist in Gynaecology, Obstetrics and Oncology, said it is important to provide care to mothers to enable them make reproductive health decisions that will best suit their health.
He stated, “I’m concerned about the contribution of abortion to maternal mortality. As an obstetrician/gynaecologist, it pains me to see a lot of our young women dying from ill-performed abortion. And I believe that we should create a platform to educate them about sexual education, tell them to say ‘No’, those who cannot say ‘No’ even in marriage settings can use family planning if they don’t want to have babies. And when they have committed this offence, I am one of those who believe that we should not throw them away. We need to treat them, save their lives in other that they would sin no more.”
The vice chancellor, while responding to questions from senators on the falling standard of education in the country, said the decline of the education sector could be traced to underfunding by government.
According to him, “The problem of falling standard of education is something that we university administrators have to deal with. But the problem is deep-seated. We are dealing with a chronic situation of under-funding persistently over several years. We are dealing with a situation characterised by lack of moral, dilapidated infrastructure. For example, Nigeria is funding education to the tune of 1.7 per cent of the GDP. A World Bank survey of 41 countries in sub-sahara Africa noted that Nigeria had only three countries below it: South Sudan, Zimbabwe and Zambia. We need to put money in education. We need to recognise education as a vital tool to promote not only economy but this nation’s development. We also look at the supply system. We have a 6-3-3-4 system. The 6-3 is being taken care of by UBEC, also TETFUND taking care of the universities. But there’s nothing taking care of the senior secondary school. That is an orphan. In other words, what the universities are getting are poorly-rated products. I quite agree that ranking is good. The ranking parameters are not fair to us. We have only one Nobel Prize winner in Nigeria shared by Ibadan and Ife. So, ranking is good because it’s going to promote competition, it’s going to make us wake up and do well. But I must say that there is a ray of hope. Following the prolonged ASUU strike of six months, government promised to inject funds into the university system as part of an effort to revitalise the university system, N1.3trillion was voted for this exercise. I must say that the first tranche that should have been released to the universities in 2013 is all we got. And we had only N73billion. So, nothing in 2014, nothing in 2015. We really need to follow through and make sure that the universities are well-funded, the staff are well motivated and I can assure you, being part of this system, that our universities will deliver.”