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Nigeria still far behind in reaching its cancer care goal – NCS

The Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS) has disclosed that the nation still lagged in reaching its cancer care goal.

The call was made by Dr Adamu Umar during a courtesy visit to the ultramodern Asi Ukpo Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Calabar on Monday.

Nigeria still far behind in reaching its cancer care goal - NCS

Adamu and his team of cancer experts who commended the leadership of the Centre for their efforts in addressing the scourge of cancer noted that the burden of cancer was still alarming in the nation.

He said while the Federal Government has put up a National Institute of cancer research and treatment to enhance timely data collection and advocacy, treatment was still very expensive not just for the poor but the rich too.

“We can address the fund gap by the government doing the needful in creating the right infrastructure and empowering organisations to push for effective cancer care.

“The cancer health fund meant to cater for indigent breast, cervical and prostate cancer patients should be expanded to accommodate more cancers and more hospitals including private hospitals like Asi Ukpo Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

“Part of our suggestions as a Civil Society Organisation (CSO) is to have big cancer centres both public and privately owned, access this fund so that vulnerable Nigerians can benefit,” he said.

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On her part, Dr Aisha Mustapha, Chairperson, Medical Women Association of Nigeria (MWAN), Kaduna Chapter who was part of the team said she was happy that a private facility could provide comprehensive cancer care in Nigeria.

According to her, “I see a High Dynamic Range (HDR), brachytherapy machine and a linac radiotherapy machine which are state of the art,” she said.

Mustapha who is also a Cancer advocate and survivor asserted that if there were more centres like Asi Ukpo Comprehensive Cancer Centre in Nigeria, it would help the teeming women who need proper and effective cancer care.

Nigeria still far behind in reaching its cancer care goal - NCS

Responding, Mr Yegwa Ukpo, Executive Director of the centre said he felt honoured for the visit of the society adding that it was an acknowledgement of the fact that they were having some impact on the cancer space.

Ukpo, however, said it was not yet “uhuru” as they were still looking at expanding the centre to become a one-stop-shop for cancer care, whether it is pediatric cancer, brachytherapy, surgeries and even radiotherapy for non-carcinogenic purposes.

He said that two major challenges they have had over the years were patients not being able to afford cancer care while noting that they were trying to see ways of linking to the Federal Government’s  Cancer Health Fund to make treatment more accessible.

The executive director added that funds to expand the centre to a world-class, one-stop-shop for cancer care was also a challenge they were working hard and hoping to surmount.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that part of the activities of the day included a tour of Asi Ukpo’s facilities and a decoration of the executive director as a lifetime member of the NCS for his contribution to cancer care. (NAN)

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