Cancer patients in Nigeria are soon to experience some respite as additional new cancer treatment machines are to be installed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) and the National Hospital Abuja by June 2018.
The good news was contained in the message by Health Minister, Professor Isaac Adewole to mark the 2018 world cancer day.
According to the Minister, though a new cancer machine was recently commissioned an the National Hospital, “another new machine kindly donated by
SHELL Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) is within the country and would be operational at NHA in the next few months.
“The facility at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) should be offering full and un-interrupted service by June 2018”, Adewole affirmed.
Until now, there are only three functional radiotherapy machines at the National Hospital, Abuja, Maiduguri and LUTH.
In an earlier interview with Healthstyleplus Online, Adewole admitted “The truth of the matter is that we need at least 140 radiotherapy machines in the country for our population of about 170m but we have between 7 and 8 and out of which only 2 to 3 would work fully at any time because they are overused they break down so frequently”.
He promised to ensure that cancer patients in Nigeria would soon heave sighs of relief as government intends to ensure installation total of of seven new machines before the end of 2018.
The Minister equally disclosed that plans are already underway by federal government to commence a nationwide screening for breast and cervical cancer in women and prostate cancer among men in the year.
February 4 every year, is recognised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to mark cancer day and draw public awareness to the disease, it’s prevention, treatment and control.
Adewole noted that the theme of the year’s cancer day which is: “We can, I can”, is a pointer to the fact that there is decisive need for individuals and collective drive in reducing the global burden of cancer.
He noted that the campaign outlined actions that communities and individuals could take to save lives, achieve greater equity in cancer care and make fighting
cancer a priority at the highest political level.
The Minister advised individuals to make healthy
lifestyle choices by engaging in weekly physical activities for at least two and half hours for adult and an hour for children.
Also, as part of reducing the burden of cancer in the country, Adewole canvassed lifestyle modifications that includes avoiding tobacco smoking and chewing, eating as well as healthy diet, limiting alcohol intake and staying safe under the sun.
The Minister emphasized high index of suspicion for early symptoms and signs of cancer was key saying, finding
cancer early makes it easier to treat and cure.
Spelling out roles expected of individuals in safeguarding selves, Adewole observed that any form of physical activity that is consistent will promote healthy living, reduce
obesity and sedentary lifestyle, and other non-communicable diseases.
He urged state governments to commit adequate resources to reduce cancer death and provide better quality of life for patients and survivors.
He however disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Health has made significant effort in awareness creation by developing jingles on cancer awareness in five Nigerian
languages viz: English, Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba and ‘Pidgin-english’.
These, Adewole said were available for broadcast to the general public on Radio and social media.
In the same vein, the Ministry he said, is continuing her partnership with the Nigeria Union of Road Transport Workers (NUWRT) to broadcast the awareness jingles on another 1000 long distance Buses while the office of National Coordinator for Cancer Programme, Federal Ministry of Health provided technical and material support, the Minister informed.
Despite these giant strides, the Minister regretted that there remained some factors militating against these efforts to effectively combat the scourge of cancer in Nigeria.
The key barriers to treatment of cancer in Nigeria, the Minister said, included: Poor awareness, poor health seeking behaviour, low level of non-governmental
investments, low number of skilled health care personnel, funding Gaps, amongst
To surmount these barriers, Adewole said, government was committed to the development of the Public Private Partnership strategies to address the funding gaps and manpower shortages.
He therefore called on interested stakeholders in the national and international arena to partner with Federal Ministry of Health so that more laudable achievements could be recorded in the management of cancer cases in the country.