Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City
President, Nigerian Medical Association (NMA), Dr. Francis A. Faduyile has called on the federal government to include cancer control and treatment in services covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to enable patients access cheap and affordable health care services in the country.
He made the appeal while speaking on the topic: “I am and I will fight cancer” to mark the World Cancer Day in Benin recently.
The president, represented by the state Chairman of NMA, Dr. Omoifo Valentine while commending the effort of the federal government towards the implementation of the Nigerian National Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022, the ongoing renovation of cancer treatment facilities in tertiary centres in the country, such as the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, National Hospital, Abuja and the National Cancer Centre, Abuja, said there is need to urgently raise the awareness on cancer prevention.
Faduyile said cancer related deaths in Nigeria were still one of the worst in Africa, with an estimated 70, 327 cancer deaths in 2018.
On the part of the Chief Medical Director, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, UBTH, Dr. Darlington Obaseki, he said the hospital is not resting on its oars in tackling the menace of cancer in the country.
“We are doing a lot. We are a tertiary health centre, which means that we are supposed to provide tertiary care to our patients and cancer falls into that category. We have over the past one year, dedicated and built a fifty bedded ward just only for treating cancer patients.
” What that implies is that, a specialist attention that is required across different specialty for nursing care, pharmacy care, radio oncology care, surgical oncology care, they domiciled around that place. So that can help upscale their quality of care the patients get.
“We have also now as we speak taken delivery of what we call the brachytherapy machine. This is a special machine that uses radiation to treat cancer.
“The federal government has graciously provided one for us though it has not been fixed yet, the installation process will take awhile maybe a month or two before we finally come on stream.
“What that means is that, hitherto before now, patients with cancer who needed this service travel very far, at a stage; we were going as far as Maiduguri and Abuja to get this treatment. So once we bring this on board, there will be no need for that.”
Also speaking, President, Medical Women Association of Nigeria and Head, Department of Radiation Oncology Department, UBTH, Dr. Eriba Lucy Omosefe said the disease is spreading very fast and that all hands must be on deck to curb it and reduce its spread.
“Cancer is already an epidemic in Nigeria and the rate, increase in incidence is alarming.
“Cervical cancer kills one woman everyday, 40 women die of breast cancer everyday, 26 men die of prostrate cancer everyday, over a hundred thousand Nigerians also have cancer annually and out of this hundred thousand, about 80 per cent of them will die from this disease.
“So, this is a wake up cry because we know that here in Nigeria, late presentation is a problem, people come late.
“So, we are here this day, which is “World Cancer Day”, to join the whole world as a University of Benin Teaching Hospital, as Nigeria Medical Association and all stakeholders involved in the management of cancer to tell the world that early detection is key.
“The theme is “I am and I will Fight Cancer”. We are taking it to an individual level this time. It has always been some people talking about it and now, everybody must talk about it”, she said.