L-R: Managing Director, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation, Dr. Adedayo Joseph; Executive Director, Global Child Health and Safety Initiative, Charles Onyenaucheya; and Chief Executive Officer, August Secrets Nigeria, Oluwatoyin Onigbarijo, during signing of Memorandum of Understanding on Nutrition Provision for Cancer Children, held in Lagos recently

Martins Ifijeh

As part of efforts to address the growing prevalence of cancer among Nigerian children, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF), Global Child Health and Safety Initiative (GCHSI) and August Secrets have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to tackle it.

The MoU will see to it that children under the support of Dorcas Foundation and being treated for cancer gets adequate nutrition as they undergo the process of healing.

Speaking during the epoch making signing, the Managing Director, TDCF, Dr. Adedayo Joseph said her organisation was deeply involved in awareness creation on childhood cancer, diagnosis, treatment and management, adding that the MoU has come to address the missing link, which is in the area of providing nutrition for the foundation’s children undergoing cancer healing process.

“For us, nutrition is a big deal. If we end up paying for diagnosis, chemotherapy, surgery or radiation, and at the end the child goes home starving, it will look like we have wasted our funds on treatment, because nutrition is key. Some parents have spent all their funds procuring treatment and may have lost their sources of income during the process. Such parents are unable to effectively feed the sick child.

“We make sure we support every child with cancer who comes our way, but of course you know our funds are limited, which means we have a lot of kids still on the waiting list, but we try as much as possible to treat every child with cancer.”

Adedayo said the Foundation in just two years of existence has successfully aided treatment of 20 children, adding that cost of treatment runs into millions of naira per child. “We have lost some children along the way because of late diagnosis, and there are children who have been on the waiting list and they never got to the point of being treated. We give cancer treatment from beginning to the end,” she added.

“Abroad, these children don’t die. There, they have 90 per cent chances of survival compared to our 30 per cent survival rate here, because of quality of treatment and access to funding.”

She called on the government to provide an enabling environment so that public spirited individuals can invest in healthcare, especially cancer which is very expensive to tackle.

On his part, the Executive Director, GCHSI, Charles Onyenaucheya said his organisation was involved in the partnership because the health and safety of children is priority. “If malnourished children with cancer are being treated, there is the likelihood they won’t heal quickly. And we know majority of these children are from families who won’t be able to afford nutritious food. So this partnership is coming at the right time,” he added.

On her part, the Chief Executive Officer, August Secrets Nigeria, Oluwatoyin Onigbarijo said her organisation will be providing the food regime at a discounted rate as a way of supporting the children.

“Good nutrition is very helpful for cancer treatment. It works just like drugs. A well fed child will respond to treatment faster than a malnourished child,” she said.