By Asmau Ahmad
The Nigerian Cancer Society (NSC) has called on the Federal Government to provide Universal Health Coverage, including Cancer treatment, for all Nigerians, especially the health of indigent persons.
Dr Adamu Alhassan Umar made the call in an interview with newsmen on the margins of the seminar and orientation of NYSC staff on Arm Our Youth (ArOY) health campaign, organised by OCI Foundation, on Tuesday, in Abuja.
He said the NCS had always been calling on the government to expand the scope of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to cover cancer, noting that less than ten per cent of Nigerians were benefiting from the scheme.
“Without universal health coverage, there is no way we can achieve the desire objectives of providing health care for all Nigerians, not to talk of cancer alone.
“Now, there is the recently introduced Cancer Health Fund that has been in the budget for the last two years, but with its implementation yet to start.
“But I am happy to inform Nigerians that the implementation is about to start now and it is meant for indigent patients across six hospitals in the country.
“The sum of one billion naira is there for indigent patients to access, that don’t have the means to treat cancer.
“What we are saying is that, that is not enough, because, we want more hospitals to be covered by government, more cancers to be covered and of course more funds,” Umar said, explaining that this was the reason why the NCS had continuously called for universal health coverage.
“This is because, until such a time when Nigeria will realise that it is important for all Nigerians, regardless of class and status, to access cancer care, we will not be celebrating the little effort we are doing”.
Dr Umar said Nigeria, as a member of the African Union, had agreed and signed to allocate 15 per cent of its consolidated total budget to health care, is far behind.
“If you look at the 2022 budget, the money allocated to health care is less than five per cent of the total budget. Let’s not forget that if a member of a family has cancer, it also affects all members of the family in one way or the other. Thus, the government need to do the needful to enhance the health care for all Nigerians,” he added.