Health minister Osagie Ehanire says 746 Nigerians die annually from oral cancer complications.
He said 1,146 cases were diagnosed in the country annually.
Mr Ehanire, represented by Gloria Uzo-Igwe, head of the dentistry division of the federal health ministry, disclosed this at a one-day oral cancer training on Monday in Abuja.
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Oral cancer is also called oral cavity cancer and develops in any part of the mouth. Its symptoms include a sore that doesn’t heal, a lump or a white or red patch on the inside of the mouth.
The minister expressed worries that most people were not aware of the devastating effect of oral cancer in the country.
He said the mortality rate is higher than the rest of the cancers, noting that the health ministry FMOH is intensifying its awareness campaign.
“We have a policy that we are going to launch in November on oral health. Our own is preventive, we go to communities, and we raise awareness,” he said.
The minister explained that the policy target should be able to map at least 50 per cent of the population in the rural areas and ensure there were better professionals at the primary health care centres.
“We are aiming at what we call a comprehensive centre. At least there must be a dental clinic comprising a dentist, therapist, and hygienist in a comprehensive centre, at least, in the three geopolitical zones of every state,” Mr Ehanire stated.
In her presentation, Bukola Adeyemi of the University College Ibadan said oral cancer was not too prevalent in the country.
She said if over 1,000 cases of oral cancer were diagnosed every year and over 700 of that number died, “that means that over 50 per cent of people that are diagnosed die of oral cancer every year in the country,” adding “that is enormous because these are people that are very important to some people.”