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THE EFFECT OF BROADCAST MEDIA CAMPAIGN AGAINST BREAST CANCER
A STUDY OF WOMEN IN ENUGU SOUTH LGA
1.1 BACKGROUND OF STUDY
To Enzensberger Hans Magnus, the mass media are but a consciousness industry (1970, p. 260). The implication of that statement cannot be far fetched. The media have enormous role in the society. This is a very glaring fact, since the place of the media as the fourth estate of the realm is such that the society can not do without the media nor could any society grow and become something much more important. So, one can say without “tip-toeing” that the media occupy a central place in the life of any country. On this note Oso (2002) notes that, their role in creating awareness of both the immediate environment they operate in and the outside world. Speaking on the importance of the media as instrument for mass education, enlightenment, information and more, Hall cited in Oso (2002, P.39), says, “what we know of our society depends on how things are presented to us by the media and that knowledge in turn informs what we do and what policies we are prepared to accept.” This implies that the mass media in performing that functions illuminate the implications of various government, organizational, social and cultural ideologies, policies, activities, national or international etc; for apt actions and reactions or responses. Umechukwu (2004, p.8) agrees that the mass media therefore, do not only create awareness or are only a means for expression of ideas, but also they are “a social force to be reckoned with and a vehicle for mobilization.”
The contemporary society is faced with a lot of environmental, economic, trade, political, cultural, health, relationship education and others challenges. The solution to these challenges is not tied much to policies but information and education. In proffering solution to the foregoing challenges in a country as large as Nigeria, the mass media should be seen as an essential tool. This is so, because the rate at which diseases and so many other health related problems are escalating is alarming and quite dreadful. Some of such health related problems include breast cancer, which is particularly found among women. To draw adequate attention to the disease, the theme for this year’s world women’s day was title “Fight against the Scourge of Breast Cancer.” There was also a charm call on concerned international agencies and countries of the world to carryout sensitization against not only breast cancer but every other brand or kind of cancer in existence. The mass media readily come handy in executing this task.
In the recent years, cases of breast cancer among women (both married and unmarried) is on the increase and perilous nature of this disease has grown so much so that in Nigeria, there are so many on-going campaigns asking women to go to respective health centers to receive protective medication. The drugs for this exercise are being provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in conjunction with the World Health Organization to make sure that cases of breast cancer and other cancerous disease are
annihilated. But the issue remains, are Nigerians fully sensitized on the scourge of breast cancer? Are those in Enugu educated on the need for medical checkup
and the medication to prevent the escalation of cases of breast cancer among residents of the city?
In Nigeria, without doubt, breast cancer according to Ogundipe and Obinna (2008, p.3) is currently the most common malignancy. Little wonder, Adebamo, the director of the Institute for Advanced medical Research and Training (IAMRT) at the University of Ibadan notes: “in our 1999 case-control study of 250 consecutive breast cancer cases seen in our oncology clinic between 1992 and 1995, we found that breast cancer patients tended to be taller, weighed more, had a latter age at onset of first pregnancy and had a higher mean number of children than controls. That last finding was particularly interesting because it is known that multiparty protects against breast cancer. However, pregnancy has a complex relationship with breast cancer. On the short term, on account of the stimulatory effect on breast epitheliah growth, pregnancy increases short term risk of breast cancer. The protective effect of pregnancy is seen decades after the pregnancy-often after the age of 40 years. In a country with low life expectancy like Nigeria therefore, case control studies are likely to highlight the early pro-carcinogenic effect of pregnancy since few women survive the age where the protective effect of pregnancy is more prominent.” To buttress this Ogundipe and Obinna (2008, p.30) say a retrospective review data of breast cancers between 2001 and 2005 in the University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital Cancer Registry revealed that a total of 1,2116 cases of cancers were registered within the study period and breast cancer accounted for 13.9 percent. There were 161 females and eight males with breast cancer within the study period, giving a female to male ration of 20:1. There were four cases of bilateral breast cancers (Ogundipe and Obinna, 2008, p.30). the age ranged between 17 and 85years and the peak age group according to Ogundipe and Obinna (2008) was 40-49 years which accounted for 61 cases (36.1 percent). The commonest type of breast cancer was invasive ductal carcinoma (stage 0) which accounted for 82.6 percent. These writers concluded this part of their study by saying that breast cancer was on the increase in the environment and therefore necessitated public enlightenment via various media of communication, screening of all women at risk, early detection and proper management in the public health institutions.
Perhaps we need at this point to open our eyes on what breast cancer is all about, may be, it will help us to take it more seriously and at the same time see the need to enlighten Nigerians through the instrument of the mass media, so as to escape from being eaten up by breast cancer. It is quite surprising to find out in the course of this work that even males have breast cancer. That means, if both parties are involved, there is a growing necessity as suggested by Ogundipe and Obinna (2008, p.8) for public health enlightenment so as to save our economy and state from crumbling.
In Enugu State, a team of medical Doctor’ from United States of America
(USA) led by Dr. Nicholas Azinge under the aegis of African Women Cancer Awareness Association (AWSCAA) carried out breast cancer tests in over 250
women in four communities in Enugu State, the prevalence of breast cancer is the highest among other states of Nigeria with an estimated rate of 44.5 percent as cited by Atuonwu (2008, p.13) The foregoing study and finding underscores the need for intensive breast cancer enlightenment campaign by the broadcast media in Enugu State and Nigeria at large.
Breast cancer awareness month, according to Fasoranti (2008, p.4), is usually October every year, and therefore we should lay more emphasis on our public health and preventive medicine infrastructures as we focus on breast cancer, which is the number one cancer killer of Nigerian women. He says: “I am very positive that many of my readers know somebody that has succumbed to or is currently battling this dreadful disease. It is my hope that after reading this article, someone will be prompted to encourage a sister, mother, cousin or friend to get the necessary life saving mammogram and routinely conduct regular month self breast examination. A phone call is all it takes.” The implication of the above statement is that all of us should be a mobile media and channels through which this campaign against breast cancer can be fought and won. He advises that every hand should be on deck to make sure that every one gets sensitization message about the effect of breast cancer and the possible cause of breast cancer.
To Fasoranti (2008, p.3), breast cancer is a malignant (cancerous) growth which begins in the tissues of the breast. Cancer however, is a disease in which abnormal cells grow, in an uncontrolled way. He maintains it is most common cancer in women, but it can also appear in men. In Nigeria, according to Prof. Chiedozie as cited by Maureen Atuonwu (2008, p. 13) noted that: there is not a single study that has identified 20 years survivals. Prof. Chiedozie also reported that: of hundreds of breast cancer patients who have been treated in University of Benin Teaching Hospital over last 30 years, only two patients were alive and still well presently. He also concluded that usual life expectancy for breast cancer patients in Nigeria and most Africa is truly abysmal and measured in months.
A look at the epidemiology of breast cancer in Nigeria would reveal the fact that breast cancer constitutes a major public health issue and globally, over I million new cases are diagnosed annually, resulting in over 400,000 annual deaths and about 4.4 million women living with the diseases (Fasoranti, 2008, p.3). He further agrees that it also affects one in eight women during their lives. It is the commonest site of specific malignancy affecting women and the most common cause of cancer mortality in women worldwide. It has also been found in men but not very common. Statistics available in Nigeria are largely
unreliable because of many factors that have not allowed adequate data collection and documentation; but according to numbers provided by Globocan
in 2002, breast cancer is responsible for about 16% of all cancer related deaths in Nigeria. It should be recalled also that in a publication by Okobia et.al (2006, p.130), late presentation of patients at advanced stages when little or no benefit can be derived from any form of therapy, is the hallmark of breast cancer in Nigerian women. This is indeed a worrisome trend and it appears to be the norm in Nigeria.
Furthermore, there are many risk factors that have been associated with breast cancer. Being a female is one of the factors that really cannot be kept aside or do much about. The chance of getting breast cancer increases with the age of the woman. The older the women get the more chances of getting breast cancer. As with any other genetic disease, a history of breast cancer in close relatives especially in mothers and siblings has been associated with risks of early onset of menstrual period before the age of 12 years or reaching menopause period after the age of 55 years has both been associated with risks of developing breast cancer. These can be explained by prolonged period of estrogen exposure in females, other risks include being over-weight, using hormone replacement therapy, taking birth control pills, drinking alcohol, not having children or having your first child after the age of 35 or having dense breasts (Fasoronti, 2008, p.3).
However, it is troubling to know that majority of our female fold largely ignore changes they might notice around their breasts; this is indeed very
common in our country Nigeria. Some commons signs seen in breast cancer are hump which is usually painless, change in size or shape of the breast, or discharge from the nipples which are largely ignored. It is however important to know that early detection and prompt treatment is the key to surviving this deadly disease that is ravaging the globe especially the developing nations.
To help draw attention to this killer cum deadly disease, the mass media by their nature can be used to good ends. No surprise Marks and Kalaitzandnakes (2001, p.24) have appropriately reviewed the media as a channel for informing and sensitizing the general public on scientific health nuances and complexities as we push to halt this pandemic. By the position and nature that the media of communication have gotten, they can play this role. Ashong and Batta (2007, p.107) agree that the media can define agenda of public concern about a given issue; they might or may directly influence public opinion itself. To them, the media have a very subliminal, subtle, indirect, and cumulative effect on audience over time and compel or focus attention on certain issues. The concern of these scholars is that the mass media present objects at all times, suggesting what the individual in the audience should think about, know about and have feeling about. Since such is the case, it is glaring and obvious that educating the masses on the issue of breast cancer can not be seen as a tasking duty, since the media of mass communication can easily tilt the attention of the generality of the masses to the cruciality of this issue.
Buttressing further the role of the media Enahoro and Richards (2007, p.124), say the mass media represent an institutionalized channel for the distribution of social knowledge and hence a potentially powerful instrument of social control. Golding (1974, p.252) is of the view that the mass media control the provision of ideas and images which people use to interpret and understand a great deal of their everyday life. Cohen and young (1973, p.215) describing the place of the mass media in public enlightenment and sensitization say: “the mass media provide a major source of knowledge in a segregated society of what the consensus actually is and what is the nature of the deviation from it. They conjure up for each group, with its limited stock of social knowledge, what everyone else believes.” Enahoro and Richards (2007, p.124) support this when they say that the media can make substantial contributions to the process of creating public awareness in order to bring about an increase in information or knowledge of the public or target group about a specific issue, generate a change in their opinions or attitude as well as motivate them to action; that is to change their behaviour and habit. Corroborating these facts, Buckalew and Wulfemayer (2005, p.125) listed the role of mass media, among others, to include: to inform, to educate, to help bring about social change, and to help establish public policies.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM:
Breast cancer is a deadly disease that is worse than HIV/AIDS, in the sense that its effect is a serious threat not only to national development but human existence. The serious nature of this threatening disease has as well attracted global attention and for the time being, it has had no cure but could be prevented if a proactive measure is taken. It has been reported that cases of breast cancer among women is seriously on the increase, resulting to about 30 percent death among women in the developing nations especially Africa.
It is in view of this life and societal threatening ailment that spurred the researcher to assess the level of awareness among women in Enugu metropolis on this scourge using Enugu South Local Government Area as an area of study.
Moreso, some broadcast campaigns have been launched and some are still on-going on breast cancer asking women to always go for a medical check-up, but the concern of the researcher is whether women responded to this campaign.
Another serious concern of the researcher is the notion of young ladies who are yet to marry regarding such broadcast campaign or preventive effort from being affected by this cancerous disease of the breast.
In addition to this, it is not clear if the broadcast media played their part very well in this on-going fight against breast cancer.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
The objectives of this study were as follows:
- To find the level of awareness of breast cancer campaign among women in Enugu South LGA.
- To assess the response of women in the area to breast cancer campaigns in Enugu South LGA.
- To find out if young and unmarried ladies/girls follow the trend of media campaigns towards eradicating breast cancer in the society.
- To find out if the Nigerian broadcasting media are seriously committed to the fight against breast cancer.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
Having noted the nature of problems that breast cancer pose to our social existence and its escalated threat, it becomes relevant that a study should be carried out in this area, so that efforts could be intensified in the fight against breast cancer among women.
This kind of research was very vital at a time like this when at about 30% of death among women between 2008 and 2010 are reportedly all cases of breast cancer. The society stands to benefit a lot since one of the ways to fight this scourge is through awareness creation. Through awareness creation, the masses was well educated on the way of this looming catastrophe and one thing this work will do was to serve as an avenue to draw attention to invading hand of breast cancer on women so as to limit its escalation.
Another benefit from this study was that it helped to preserve the economy of our nation if the menace of breast cancer is curbed as the fund being allocated to importation of drugs can be channeled to some other thing else. It should be noted that in Africa, women contribute enormously to our economic growth. They constitute up to 90 percent of the workforce in agricultural sector and 70 percent in trade or marketing sector, and therefore, their lives must be saved, secured and guaranteed.
1.5 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions have been formulated to guide this study:
- What is the awareness level of awareness among women on breast cancer scourge in Enugu South local Government Area?
- Are women aware of broadcast media campaign against breast cancer?
- What are the responses of women to breast cancer campaign in Enugu South local government Area?
- To what extent has the broadcast media been committed to the campaign against breast cancer?