The Federal Government on Friday, April 13, 2018 said the level of fatality of cancer cases in the country had become worrisome.
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, stated this at the launch of National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP) 2018-2022 in Abuja.
Adewole said that the plan would create awareness on the dangers and treatment of cancer, and help to address every aspect of cancer management to improve the quality of life of patients.
He said that the plan included prevention, early detection through regular screening, early treatment, intervention, palliative care and pain control.
He called on all stakeholders to join hands with the ministry to fight the scourge of the deadly disease, saying that it must be conquered.
On his part, Prof. Sunday Adewuyi, Clinical and Radiation Oncologist, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, who presented overview of NCCP and state of cancer in Nigeria, said cancer was real.
“Cancer is real and does not discriminate against tribe, religion, sex, educational level, political class or party.
“Being diagnosed of cancer in Nigeria is like a death sentence due to cost of drugs, surgeries and investigations, deficient facilities for radiotherapy and specialised care and adequate manpower in every aspect of oncologic therapies.”
Adewuyi pointed out that a nation’s healthcare delivery system had significant inputs from all stakeholders and that a good synergy was required to achieve optimal care.
He enumerated some of the challenges faced by cancer patients in Nigeria as low insurance coverage to reduce financial burden on patients, deficient supply chain for drugs and consumables, lack of dedicated centres with optimal infrastructures and manpower.
He said that the other challenges were lack of legislation and policies to fund cancer centres and cancer care.
The minister added that the challenges faced by cancer health care-givers were apathy and loss of confidence in orthodox treatment and non-inclusion of comprehensive cancer care in National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
The care-givers’ other constraints, he said, included were brain drain, obsolete, deficient and non-functioning radiotherapy equipment.
Adewuyi advocated declaration of a state-of-emergency in cancer care in Nigeria and 100 per cent implementation of the 2018-2022 plan.
In her remarks, Founder and Chairman, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr Zainab Bagudu, thanked the team that put together the control plan.
Bagudu, who is Wife of Kebbi Governor, said that the plan was long overdue as the old one expired in 2013.
She expressed delight that the conversation about cancer had stepped up in Nigeria and hoped that the launch of the new plan would translate into reduced mortality rate.
“We are very good at making plans but the burden and the huge task ahead of us is to implement these plans.
“Cancer is a very complex disease that is not yet properly understood and is very expensive to treat, and all these made it more of a problem in our own society.
“In Africa where we have superstitious belief, it adds to the burden and stigmatisation of cancer patients,” she said.
By Ebere Agozie