By Haruna Gimba
The Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that about 10,000 Nigerians die of cancer annually due to the lack of necessary equipment and resources to attend to the patients.
Prof Adewole spoke in Abuja at the inauguration of the National Hospital’s Radiotherapy Centre with new Multilleave Linear Accelerator, known as LINAC, for cancer treatment.
The minister described cancer as a disease that had killed more people than the combination of Tuberculosis, infectious diseases and HIV, and decried the lack of resources to cushion the effect of cancer.
He explained that based on the review of International Atomic Energy Agencies of countries conducted in 2013, only South Africa and Egypt have the capability of treating cancer, a situation he described as worrisome.
It was reported that the minister also commended the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, for her passion in addressing the plight of cancer patients, saying such passion had made it possible for the centre to be operational.
He said the Linear Accelerator machine in the facility would be increased to two so as to prevent a situation where patients would be stranded, should the machine break down.
He added that the Federal Government would upgrade other seven cancer centres next year in order to minimise the burden of cancer and associated death rates in the country.
The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Dr Jafaru Momoh, said the radiotherapy unit, inaugurated in 2000 was operational till it finally broke down in February due to pressure.
He said one LINAC was procured in 2013 but was not installed until recently due to the paucity of funds to procure the necessary CT simulators and accessories for its installation and inauguration.
“The new LINAC is the first of its kind in Nigeria, the members of staff of relevant departments have been trained on its use. Additional support will be needed to complete the entire complex and provide the necessary equipment and relevant manpower to run it as a centre of excellence for cancer care,” he said.
While inaugurating the facility, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, lauded the efforts of the hospital’s management for making the facility a reality.
She described the death of 10,000 people to cancer as unimaginable and assured the hospital of the Federal Government’s support in making everything available to ensure quality service delivery in the facility.