Cancer care in “sorry state”

The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) says the health challenge in dealing with cancer in Nigeria is in “sorry state”, faced with deficits that make it difficult to diagnose and treat the disease.

The association has instead called for more investment in prevention to ensure many potential cancers are caught early before they become malignant.

President of the association, Dr Francis Faduyile, who spoke at a press conference in Abuja to mark the World Cancer Day, said, “Prevention, which is the right thing we are preaching, can actually take care of a lot of the burden.”

“If you don’t have large chunk of money to put in place equipment to treat cancer, let us invest heavily on preventive methods,” he said.

“We need to adequately inform, enlighten people. We need to ask for massive screening to be able to detect them early when it is still curable. The awareness is poor. We need to have drugs for us to treat, and other treatment components, but we don’t have,” he said.

Speaking about the dearth of professionals, and the poor collaboration among health care professionals to form cancer-management teams, he said, “It is a sorry state but the few that are available are doing the best within their capability to take care of our people.”

The association has visited the National Assembly to advocate a clear policy on cancer care — including implementation of an existing five-year National Cancer Control Plan, in addition to effective funding of cancer care and research.

Only around N728 million is earmarked in the 2020 federal budget to facilitate treatment for indigent patients with cervical, breast and prostate cancers.

But any approach to cancer prevention, screening and treatment in the country will also need inclusion of cancer care in the coverage of the National Health Insurance Scheme, the association said.

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