Bassey Inyang in Calabar
A former Head of State, General Abdusalami Abubakar has urged the federal government to establish more cancer control and treatment centres in the country to help reduce the medical tourism abroad.
Abubakar made the call on Saturday during the official Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony of Asi Ukpo Oncology Centre in Calabar.
He said the current nine cancer centres in the country were incapable of meeting up with the needed services required by the over 160 miilion Nigerians.
Abubakar said that cancer was fast emerging as the leading cause of death worldwide.
He said this development has informed the need for the federal government to establish more centres across the country.
“The significance of this stone laying ceremony means a lot to Nigeria and the world because with the design and equipment that will be fixed here; the clamour for medical tourism abroad will be reduced.
“I must commend the Chairman of the Oncology centre, retired Brig. Gen. Anthony Ukpo for conceptualizing the idea to invest in healthcare.
“It is sad to know that even the nine cancer centres in the country are currently not operating in their optimal best. I am calling on the federal government to establish more cancer treatment centres across the country,”Abubakar said.
He urged Ukpo to ensure that the centre becomes a model for the treatment and early detection of cancer patients in the country.
In his remarks, Ukpo, who is also the Chairman of `Asi Ukpo’ Diagnostic and Medical Centre in Calabar, said that healthcare should not necessarily be managed by doctors alone.
Ukpo said that his objective to invest in healthcare as a retired military personnel was to save lives and not to make money.
Ukpo who disclosed that he lost two of his brothers to cancer, said that it was the reason behind his building up the centre.
“Asi Ukpo diagnostic centre is one of the best in the country. We get samples from different state for diagnosis.
“Putting up the oncology centre will equally complement Cross River as a medical and tourism city in Nigeria.
“With God on our side, we hope to inaugurate the oncology centre by next year with a view to start the treatment of cancer,” Ukpo said.
A clinical uncologists, Dr. Oseigwe Evaristus, who delivered a paper on ‘Overcoming the Burden of Cancer in Nigeria’, said that Nigeria records over 100,000 new cases of cancer yearly.
Evaristus attributed the increase to late presentation of cancer cases by patients to the hospitals for treatment.
The uncologists urged those who suspect they have symptoms of cancer should report early enough for diagnosis and treatment.