The Chief Executive Officer of the Eko Hospital, Lagos, Mr. Olusegun Odukoya, has raised the alarm over increasing cancer cases in the country. According to Odukoya, the oncology department of the hospital records no fewere than 1,000 new cases annually. Odukoya, however, attributed the new statistics to improved diagnosis of the disease in the country. “More cases of breast and other forms of cancer are being recorded because of improved diagnosis and the high level of awareness of the disease in the country.”
Odukoya, who spoke to our correspondent in Lagos, particularly noted that the cost of radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment given to cancer patients was high and this could discourage affected persons from seeking treatment. According to him, the high cost partly contributes to the increasing number of deaths in the country.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to intervene in reducing the cost in order to save the lives of more cancer patients. He also noted that the high cost of procuring cancer treatment equipment was responsible for the dearth of cancer treatment centres in the country. Odukoya who called for cancer treatment subsidy also canvassed zero tariffs on medical equipment imported into the country.
According to him, radiotherapy machine cost ranges between N50m and N100m, excluding the fees for the consumables. The physician said, “Cancer treatment is expensive because the cost of procuring the equipment is high. Many public and private hospitals cannot buy and maintain the facility without receiving assistance from the government.
“For instance, there are only nine tertiary hospitals that have this machine in Nigeria. Eko Hospital is the only private hospital with radiotherapy for now, yet we see 1,000 new cancer patients each year. Patients travel from across the country to access treatment in our hospital and this should not be the case.
“The government will be helping Nigerians if it there is zero tariff on medical equipment because it is the patient that has already sold many properties to pay hospital bills that will bear the burden of the high levies, and if they can’t pay they will not get the treatment they need. We need more people to survive cancer in Nigeria.”
The medic also urged the government to ensure the training personnel that could maintain medical facilities.
He added, “Nigeria is not manufacturing any of the raw materials needed to operate this medical equipment and it does not have the manpower for maintenance. Just as other teaching hospitals have challenges maintaining their radiotherapy machine, we also have similar problems. If our machines are faulty, we source experts from abroad to resolve the problems.