President, Cancer Education and Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CEAFON), Prof. Francis Durosinmi-Etti, has called on the Federal Government to declare a state of emergency on cancer in Nigeria.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Saturday that the state of emergency should be in the areas of cervical and breast cancer.
He also decried the inadequate equipment in the care and treatment of cancer, noting that it was fast contributing to major deaths caused by non-communicable diseases.
The CEAFON president said there was the urgent need for a National Task Force on cancer to combat the situation.
“With cancer incidence in the country, we are expected to have about 105,000 cancer patients that will require radiotherapy treatment in one year.
“That means we need at least 260 mega voltage machines to meet up with this population.”
He said that a recent statistics by Globacon data revealed that 42.3 per cent of cancers in Nigeria are women, with breast cancer accounting for 26.7 per cent.
“Incidence of breast cancer in Nigeria had increased significantly in the past decade, hence the need for proactive interventions.”
He added that a good synergy of all stakeholders was required to achieve optimal care and desired results in cancer care.
He said further: “There is deficient National Cancer Registry in our country, lack of political will, and the government needs to partner with private sectors, NGOs to fund cancer management.
“No priority is given to cancer care management at all levels, a large part of the populace lack cancer awareness and where there is knowledge, poverty becomes an issue.”
“Access to radiotherapy is crucial and we need to make sure it is safe and effective,” he said.
The expert noted that there was also the need to check the present status of cancer treatment facilities in the country to ensure strategic plans were on to address the problem.
He added that more than 50 per cent of cancer cases in the world occurred in Africa and among low income countries, which was expected to rise to about 70 per cent by the year 2030.
Durosinmi-Etti urged the government to deploy every approach to assist cancer patients, especially breast cancer patients.
“The National Health Insurance Scheme should consider cancer care in its treatment of health issues and multinational companies should rise and be involved in managing cancer patients.
“Implementation of National Health Act and private public partnership in cancer care is very paramount.”
“We need to enlarge the existing components of cancer treatment both infrastructural and manpower, add new centres, as well as train and retrain health workers in cancer care.”
“Nigeria is in need of a functional cancer registration to cover all states and funding of cancer treatment should be done as it was done in the case of HIV/AIDS,” he said.