Written by Williams ABAH

Experts call on govt to step-up cancer funding

As part of efforts to tackle the scourge of cancer in the country, experts have advocated for adequate funding of cancer centers and treatment.  

Senior Health Specialist, International Finance Corporation, IFC, of the World Bank Group, Dr. Olumide Okunola, in his presentation in Abuja titled, ‘’ Funding Cancer in Nigeria: The Way Forward’’, advocated that government should redouble its efforts in looking for special fund for oncology which constitutes highest causes of medical tourism.  

“We need to recognize and emphasize on public financing, Nigeria is spending the lowest in public health financing, per capital expenditure, and we need to upscale it’, he advocated.  

He, however, expressed worry that the consequences of cancer affliction in Nigeria was worse among poor rural dwellers, adding that government should take more pragmatic approach towards stemming the tides of cancer scourge in the country.  

Okunola called on the government to dedicate funds accruing from federation account, tax on alcohol and tobacco, lifestyle taxes, and seized loots, towards funding catastrophic health challenges in Nigeria.

While suggesting other options for financing cancer infrastructure in Nigeria to include public financing, blended financing and commercial financing, he called for the implementation of the National Health Act.  

In his remarks, Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, expressed the commitment and determination of government to mitigate the incidence of cancer in the country, adding that in the next 6 months government would deploy 8 to 12 new machines for oncology.  

He stressed that radiotherapy was not the only way of treating cancer, adding that there was need for nationwide awareness campaign and screening exercise for cancer.  

The minister further noted that with increased awareness, cancer cases would be reduced by 40 percent and another 40 percent of early diagnosis would reduce prevalence of cancer cases in Nigeria.  

Adewole revealed that late diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases was responsible for the high mortality rate, disclosing that government was working on 8 designated cancer treatment centers nationwide while focusing on 2 centers before the end of this year.  

The centers according to him include Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, and the National Hospital Abuja.  

Also speaking, the wife of the Vice President, Dr. Dolapo Osinbajo, noted that though government had made some remarkable progress in the war against cancer, more hands needed to be on deck to tackle the issue headlong; stressing that treatment and care for cancer patients was critical.  

She advocated for more staff in the medical field, adding that the number of health personnel in the medical profession particularly in the area of cancer treatment and care was inadequate, while calling for training of more doctors and nurses to handle cancer cases.  

Earlier in his welcome address, the President of Cancer Education and Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria, CEAFON, Prof. Francis Duronsimi, said that efforts have been intensified in making history in cancer education and advocacy in Nigeria by successfully producing and launching the first cancer treatment guidelines series in Nigeria.

 

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