THE HOUSE of Representatives on Thursday called on the Federal Ministry of Health to commission a national survey to generate reliable data on the different forms of cancers Nigerians are suffering from and also ensure treatment facilities are made available.
Samuel Adejare, an All Progressives Congress (APC) legislator from Lagos State, speaking on the floor of the House wondered why Nigeria with a population of about 200 million people would rely on only eight machines for treatment.
The lawmakers lamented the limited number of functional radiotherapy machines used in managing the disease across the country and absence of adequate data on the disease.
According to the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) that monitors regular proceedings of the lawmakers, the National Assembly members called on the Ministry of Health, Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), other relevant stakeholders and development partners to harness a multi- sectoral effort to improve cancer care in Nigeria.
While urging the health ministry to facilitate the establishment of independent standard comprehensive cancer centres in the country, the lawmakers directed committees on healthcare services and health institutions to follow up on this.
The Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan 2018-2022, says cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths annually in the country, with about 102,000 new cases every year.
Prostate cancer tops the greatest threat for the Nigerian men while breast cancer is a major threat to women, according to the plan.
In April 2019, Francis Faduyile, former president of the NMA disclosed that only four cancer treatment centres were functional in the country.
Faduyile, in an interview published by The Punch, identified eight radiotherapy centres where cancer patients could be treated.
He lamented that cancer treatment service was in shortage and had increased deaths including medical tourism.
“We have eight teaching hospitals in Nigeria with radiotherapy centres – Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba; University College Hospital, Ibadan; National Hospital Abuja, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria; University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin; Usman Danfodiyo Teaching Hospital, Sokoto; and the Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe – but about four of them are not in a functional state currently.
“The cancer treatment centre in the University College Hospital, Ibadan; Federal Teaching Hospital, Gombe; the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin and that of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, are not functioning at the moment,” Faduyile had stated.
Professor Chris Bode, the Chief Medical Director, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), had said some cancer patients who could not afford medical tourism and could not wait for the long period to be attended to eventually died.