“We know that between 2005 and 2015, 84 million people will die of cancer, unless control measures are put in place”.
This was disclosed yesterday by Dr Aktaka Kalu, the acting World Health Organisation (WHO) representative in Sierra Leone, at a press orientation on World Cancer Day at the Gender Grassroots Empowerment Movement (GGEM) hall in Freetown.
The WHO representative said as Sierra Leone joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Cancer Day, “we want to share some scientific evidence”.
Speaking on the theme “protect our children from second hand smoke,” Dr Kalu said tobacco use caused five million cancer deaths every year, adding that this figure would rise to 20 million by 2020 with 70% of them in developing countries.
He pointed out that, “if you are smoking near a child, you are compromising the health of that child; if you have tolerated someone smoking near a child, you have failed that child; if you ever kept silent when someone puffed near you, you have compromised your future”.
Dr Kalu maintained that smoking around a pregnant woman could damage the health of the unborn baby and the mother, adding further that a pregnant woman who smoked increased the risk of miscarriage, low birth weight and other complications in that pregnancy.
“A single cigarette smoked in a room with poor ventilation generates very high concentration of toxic chemicals linger in the air for an extended period of time,” said Dr Kalu.
The WHO representative stated that children were more at risk to second hand smoking than adults, because children’s immune systems were not fully developed.
He called on all parents and guardians to note that only 100% smoke free environment could protect their children and wards and family from serious health problems that breathing second hand smoke caused.
Dr Socco Kabia, the minister of Health and Sanitation, said tobacco was the agent for cancer, adding that smokers were at greater risk of longer cancer.
He added that tobacco causes 80% of cancer in men and 50% in women.