Nigeria requires at least 300 radiotherapy machines to effectively address the gaps in cancer treatment in the country.
The President of Nigeria Cancer Society (NCS), Adamu Alhassan, disclosed this at a press conference to Mark the 2022 world cancer day in Abuja on Friday.
Mr Alhassan said although the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends over 300 radiotherapy machines for Nigeria, the country has less than 10 operational machines.
According to Premiumtimes, he said the limited number of machines in the country is currently creating a big gap in cancer care to patients.
He said the gap is further widened by the lack of comprehensive health coverage through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the inadequate budgetary provision for health.
World Cancer Day
World Cancer Day is celebrated every year on February 4. It is a global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).
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Cancer, the second leading cause of death globally, is the uncontrolled growth of a group of cells in the body.
It can occur at any age and if not detected at the right time and untreated, it can increase the risk of death.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said an estimated 116,000 new cases of cancer and 41,000 cancer-related deaths were recorded in Nigeria in 2018.
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It also said if the current trends are maintained, the cancer burden in Africa is projected to double from 1,055,172 new cancer cases in 2018 to 2,123,245 by 2040.
“The International Agency for Research on Cancer estimates that one in five men and one in six women worldwide will develop cancer over the course of their lifetime, and that one in eight men and one in 11 women will die from the disease,” Mr Alhasan said.
The theme for World Cancer Day 2022 is ‘Close the Care gap’ and sub-theme is ‘Cancer and Mental Health’.
In Nigeria, the disease has continued to claim many lives due to high cost and inadequate radiotherapy treatment which has been the bane of cancer patients.
Radiotherapy is one of the key routines in the painful fight against cancer. A cancer patient often needs treatment at one point or the other. Experts say it is often better not to start it than to have a break in the sessions.
Today, Nigeria boasts of only eight government-owned radiotherapy machines located in different health facilities in the country.
Cancer and mental health
In his remark, the coordinator, Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN), Aminu Magashi, said cancer patients especially in Nigeria are finding it difficult to access treatment.
Mr Magashi, who was represented by AHBN’s senior programme and partnership officer, Obinna Onuoha, said cancer patients must have access to appropriate and adequate care, given the connection between cancer and mental health.
He urged stakeholders in the health sector to make efforts to address policies that promote harmful practices which lead to various types of cancers.