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Cost takes Nigerians to Ghana for Cancer Therapy – experts

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By Ndidi Chukwu

Health Experts in Nigeria have decried the unavailability of radiological equipment for treatment and diagnosis of cancer and other vascular diseases in Nigeria. This according to Professor Abiodun Adeyinka, Chairman of the Faculty of Radiology, National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria leads to medical tourism, Nigerians who cannot travel to developed countries visit Ghana to access cheap cancer therapy.

At the 2015 faculty day celebration for the College in Nigeria, Adeyinka emphasized on the need for more institutions to be well funded, “there are only two functional linear acceleration machine in the country and this is the reason why people travel to Ghana for cancer therapy, what is needed  to do this is not available.  It is when you have these equipment that any institution can be accredited for training and majority of the teaching hospitals in Nigeria do not have the equipment to get accreditation due to lack of funding”

He said the most unfortunate challenge is the high cost of regulation by NNRA which regulates linear acceleration and ionizing radiation practice in Nigeria  “the subscription has been increased to 3 Million naira for tertiary institutions seeking to treat cancer patients, this kills our chances of performance because before we treat a patient we have to raise three to four million every month , because we want to operate  these machines, we are begging NNRA to review their policies, paying four million for us to operate is too high, this is a very big problem, all the teaching hospitals are complaining”

These machines could also aid removal of fibroid in women and there will not be need for surgeries, “interventional radiology can treat a woman with fibroid and they go home the same day, that is not what surgery will do all the time” these procedures are the reasons why Nigerians travel out on daily basis to access such care which is available but not done due to lack of equipment Adeyinka explained.

“We have the personnel, we may not be many but we still have people that are willing to save lives if we get support from the government and the private sector,  we cannot run good health care when there are restrictions , we want to have open practice without having to pay this NNRA millions” he said

On why Nigeria has very few Radiologists ,  Chief Medical Director, National Hospital Abuja, Jaff Momoh said “the resources to train radiologists is very expensive, the resources to train a single radiologist or a radiotherapists is not available in the country,   so we need to send them outside Nigeria to complete their training. It is safer and better because you can treat cancer patients without surgery and we can only do that with radiologists, and it is cheaper but there are only two of that equipment in Nigeria, one in Kano and the other one in Maidugiri for vascular treatment”

“Every institution need personnel to run its affairs, radiologists need regular training; they need to be correct to move along with their peers outside Nigeria to follow new innovations in radiology, we must acquire new equipment to measure up to the new trend”

“We have less than 300 radiologists to cater for over 170 million of its population, and there are only 35 radiotherapists in the country, radiologists do diagnosis while radiotherapists treat cancers, it is totally inadequate and that is why we are seeking for capacity building in radiology in Nigeria, we need the federal government and the private sector to support us”

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