Home News Nigeria still far behind in reaching its cancer care goal – NCS

Nigeria still far behind in reaching its cancer care goal – NCS

by Haruna Gimba
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By Muhammad Amaan

The Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS) has said that the country was still behind in providing the needed equipment and facilities for treatment of cancer patients.

President of NCS, Dr Adamu Alhassan Umar said this during a courtesy visit to the ultramodern Asi Ukpo Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Calabar on Monday.

Dr Adamu and his team of cancer experts, who commended the leadership of the Centre for their efforts in addressing the scourge of cancer, noted that the burden of cancer was still alarming in Nigeria.

He said that while the Federal Government has put up a National Institute of Cancer Research and Treatment to enhance timely data collection and advocacy, treatment was still very expensive not just for the poor, but the rich too.

“We can address the fund gap by government doing the needful in creating the right infrastructure and empowering organisations to push for effective cancer care.

“The cancer health fund meant to cater for indigent breast, cervical and prostate cancer patients should be expanded to accommodate more cancers and more hospitals including private hospitals like Asi Ukpo Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

“Part of our suggestions as a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) is to have big cancer centres both public and privately owned, access this fund so that vulnerable Nigerians can benefit,” he said.

On her part, Dr Aisha Mustapha, Chairperson, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Kaduna Chapter, who was part of the team said she was happy that a private facility could provide comprehensive cancer care in Nigeria.

“I see a High Dynamic Range (HDR), brachytherapy machine and a linac radiotherapy machine, which are state of the art,” she said.

Mustapha, who is also a Cancer advocate and survivor, asserted that if there were more centres like Asi Ukpo Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Nigeria, it would help the teeming women who need proper and effective cancer care.

Responding, Mr Yegwa Ukpo, Executive Director of the centre, said he felt honoured by the visit of the society, adding that it was an acknowledgement of the center’s contributions to the cancer space.

Ukpo, however, said it was not yet “uhuru” as they were still looking at expanding the centre to become a one-stop-shop for cancer care whether it is pediatric cancer, brachytherapy, surgeries and even radiotherapy for non-carcinogenic purposes.

He said that two major challenges they have had over the years were patients not being able to afford cancer care while noting that they were trying to see ways of linking to the Federal Government’s Cancer Health Fund to make treatment more accessible.

The executive director added that funds to expand the centre to a world class, one-stop-shop for cancer care was also a challenge they were working hard and hoping to surmount.

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