Years of Medical Tourism for Cancer Treatment over, Says FG

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Minister of state for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire

Dike Onwuamaeze

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, and the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, have expressed the hope that the days when Nigerians travel abroad in search for cancer medical treatment are over.

The ministers expressed this optimism yesterday at the inauguration of NLCC training and administrative building at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), which is equipped with modern and sophisticated machines and instruments for the treatment, management and control of cancer.

The centre, according to the Managing Director of Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), Mr. Uche Orji, was built at the cost of $10 million that was provided by NSIA.

In her remark, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Ahmed, said: “With the facilities we have here, we expect Nigerians and the citizens of our neighbouring countries to come here for cancer treatment. This centre will also stem the tide of foreign medical tourism as Nigerians would no longer need to travel abroad for cancer care. What we have here in terms of precise technologies and equipment is as good as what is obtainable outside Nigeria.”

She added that the cancer centre was built to enable Nigerians obtain precise cancer treatment.

“The training centre we are here to unveil today is a centre that will train oncologists and other important medical personnel in ensuring that adequate and best kind of care is provided in this Centre of Excellence,” she said.

The minister said the centre would provide affordable services at N900,000 per patient for six weeks treatment.

Speaking in the same vein, Ehanire said: “It is, therefore, a great relief for the Federal Ministry of Health to see the partnership between NSIA and LUTH bringing succour to the masses who would not afford medical tourism abroad for cancer treatment.

“I am particularly pleased to know that this venture is aimed at complimenting the management and the co-ordination of the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, which was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari last year.”

The minister, who was represented by Senator Adeleke Mamora, described cancer as a debilitating disease, which affects not the sufferer alone but takes a toll on families, communities and the nation at large, and urged the private sector, which he said has a very huge financial base, to establish cancer care centres in other parts of the country to increase the needed access to cancer treatment.

The Chief Executive Officer of NSIA-LUTH Cancer Care, Mr. Frank Sullivan, described the centre as a dream come true, which he said would provide Nigerians with all the cancer care that foreign hospital would provide.

“The significance of what we are doing today is that this is a major milestone for Nigeria in the sense that we are now able to treat all cases of cancer directly here, and Nigerians should not have the need to go abroad for such anymore. We have the best equipment that money can buy, which has been running for months without interruption,” Sullivan said.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said LUTH has a recipe for success by acquiring sophisticated infrastructure that would make the centre the envy of the region. “I am also glad about your sustainability plan via the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) arrangement to keep the equipment running.

“But I pray that you allot at least two per cent to those who cannot afford the cost of treatment. Finally, your training programme is well appreciated to enable us grow capacity in this area of treatment of cancer in Nigeria,” he said.On his own, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, assured Nigerians that the centre would live up to its billings as “LUTH will not let you down on this investment.”