Cancer Patients Lament Over Poor Treatment In Nigeria
Medical practitioners has revealed that there are no more than three functional radiotherapy centres for cancer treatment in Nigeria.
Nigerians suffering from cancer have lamented the high cost of treatment and dearth of treatment facilities and specialists.
The patients and medical experts, who spoke ahead of this year’s World Cancer Day called on governments at the federal and state levels to subsidise treatment and save lives.
February 4 is marked as World Cancer Day and this year’s event is themed “I am and I will”.
Medical practitioners who spoke to Daily Trust revealed that there are no more than three functional radiotherapy centres for cancer treatment in Nigeria.
The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Abuja, Dr Jafaru Momoh, said aside from the hospital he heads, which has two linac radiotherapy machines, only the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), which is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) has two of the machines.
Speaking about these challenges, an Oncology Consultant at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital (AKTH), Dr Muhammad Inuwa Mustapha, identified lack of radiotherapy machine as a monumental concern that requires urgent attention from both the federal and state government.
He said 70 per cent of cancer patients need radiotherapy treatment.
He said: “In Kano, we don’t have a single radiotherapy machine. In the whole country, we have only three centres with functional radiotherapy machines and they are in Abuja, Lagos and Enugu.
“Based on the International Atomic Energy Management Agency recommendation, any community that has 250, 000 people is supposed to have a machine. So, if you look at Kano, based on our population we are supposed to have not less than 20 radiotherapy machines and we have none. With over 200 million people, we have only three functional machines for the whole country and this is terrible.''
He, therefore, appealed to the government to put up a radiotherapy machine in each state so as to address the major concern of cancer patients.
Other public hospitals do not have radiotherapy machines or the ones they have are obsolete.
According to the Nigeria National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (2018-2022), cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in the country every year with an estimated 102,000 new cases annually.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes cancer as a large group of diseases that can start in almost any organ or tissue of the body when abnormal cells grow uncontrollably, go beyond their usual boundaries to invade adjoining parts of the body and/or spread to other organs.
The Commissioner for Health in Benue State, Dr Joseph Ngbea, who is the current chairman of the National Cancer Committee of the Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), said the cause of most cancers is not known but added that there are risk factors.
These include age, genetics and family history, geographical factors (some cancers are related to excessive exposure to sunlight) and environmental factors like what people eat, viruses and infections among others.
Experts say cancer can be treated by surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, hormonal manipulation and targeted therapy; but the facilities available for the treatment are in short supply.