Given the frightening menace of cancer in Nigeria, experts have converged in Abuja today to chart the way forward for cancer funding in the country.
The key speaker, Senior Health Specialist, International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank Group, Dr.Olumide Okunola, in his presentation 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.
Dr. Okunola called on the Government to dedicate funds accruing from federation account, tax on alcohol and tobacco, lifestyle taxes, seized loots, etc. 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, situation of the administration of the Cancer Health Financing(CHF) in the National Health Insurance Scheme(NHIS) and the need to engage with the Bank of Industry(BOI) and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) and other financial institutions on how to explicitly benefit from concessionary financing for oncology in Nigeria.
In his remarks, the Minister of Health, Prof 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.
He further noted that with increased awareness, cancer cases would be reduced by 40% and another 40% of early diagnosis would reduce prevalence of cancer cases in Nigeria. He informed that late diagnosis and treatment of cancer cases was responsible for the high mortality rate.
He disclosed that government was working on 8 designated cancer treatment centers nationwide while focusing on 2 centers before the end of this year; these are: the 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. She therefore called for training of more Doctors and Nurses to handle cancer cases.
Earlier in his welcome address, the President of Cancer Education 2and Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CEAFON),Prof.Francis Abayomi Duronsimi, said that CEAFON was making history in Cancer Education and Advocacy in Nigeria by successfully producing and launching the first cancer Treatment Guidelines Series in Nigeria which started with the launching of Breast Cancer Treatment Guidelines by the Honourable Minister of Health, in February 2017.
‘’This 2017 Cancer Summit would be special as we are all surely going to learn something new and useful as we continue to get involved in the Prevention, Diagnosis, Treatment and Care of our Cancer Patients’’. Professor Duronsimi noted.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of awards to the wife of the Vice President, Dr.Dolapo Osinbajo, Honourable Minster of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole and Dr.Olumide Okunola, for their contributions and doggedness in the fight against cancer in Nigeria.
Boade Akinola (Mrs.)
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