Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
Disturbed by the recent budget slash by the National Assembly in some critical and strategic health interventions in the country, the Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS) has expressed shock over the sad development, describing it as â€œlife threateningâ€.
In a statement signed and issued by its national president, Professor Sani Abubakar Malami,Â Friday, NCS said: â€œRecent speech by President Muhammadu Buhari had confirmed that the funds, including money that had been earmarked for the establishment of chemotherapy centres were reduced by over N7.45 billion by the National Assembly.â€
The statement also informed that: â€œThe implication is that this critical and life-saving project had been fatally compromised.â€
While decrying the action of the National Assembly, the statement further said: â€œIt is totally unacceptable that such could happen at this time given that the prevalence of cancer in Nigerians is rising astronomically. According to the most reliable estimates, 162,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed each year in Nigeria, and virtually all of these individuals succumb to the disease and face a painful and premature death within three to five years.â€
This is the fate, according to the statement, that awaits over half a million Nigerians presently living with various stages of cancers that could be mitigated once the proposed six regional chemotherapy centres are established and fully operational in each of the geopolitical zones.
The group disclosed that Nigeria has the lowest ratio of patient-to-chemotherapy machine even in sub-Saharan Africa saying: â€œWe therefore call on the president to, as a matter of utmost urgency table before the National Assembly a supplementary appropriation bill that will allocate funds for the chemotherapy centres.
“We equally appeal to the members of the National Assembly to expeditiously pass the supplementary budget to restore the establishment of the chemotherapy centres.
â€œCancer should not continue to be a death sentence in Nigeria and the time to act is now.â€