By Nduka Ezediuno
The wife of Kebbi State Governor and Founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr. Zainab Bagudu has donated two million naira and other palliative items to 10 indigent cancer patients at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, (UATH).
Speaking at the visit to UATH as part of the activities to mark the October International Breast Cancer Awareness month, Dr. Bagudu also spoke on the need for more components of cancer care and treatment to be included in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), as Nigeria gradually gets over COVID-19 setbacks.
Explaining the choice of UATH for Medicaid’s support, she pointed out that the hospital was among the few in the world to have sustained cancer care even at the peak of the COVID pandemic, and pledged the Foundation’s commitment to sustaining the partnership.
“The work that we do is mainly supporting cancer patients, we try to advocate to government for better policies for cancer patients, we raise funds and we try to support them financially. So, today that’s why we have come to Gwagwalada to present the sum of two million naira to the hospital, as well as some extra palliatives individually hand-to-hand to the patients. So the two million will be shared among ten patients.
“For a very long time we have been working with the National Health Insurance Scheme to ensure that cancer care in all its ramifications is included in the NHIS. It is not where we would like it to be yet but we are hopeful and we are confident that very soon, we would be able to see that happen.”
One of the patients who benefited from Medicaid foundation’s support, Zira Dia said he has spent over one point five million naira in accessing treatment as his Health Insurance does not cover most cost intensive aspects of care and treatment.
Dia appreciated Medicaid’s kind gesture and appealed to policy makers to support advocacy for inclusion of cancer care in the NHI scheme.
“The cost of the treatment I have spent nothing less than 1.5 million naira right from the time I started this treatment because the drugs are very very costly and the hospital itself doesn’t have it, so you have to book for it from the pharmacy to supply it when it becomes available.
“It has really affected me so much, had it been I have not been getting help from people, I wouldn’t have been alive today. If to say the NHIS covers it, then I would not be looking for help anywhere.
“Yes I have seen cash donation, I have seen this rechargeable fan which is very very okay for this environment in Gwgagwalada. I really appreciate her excellency.”
The Chief Medical Director of UATH, Bisala Ekele said the gesture by Medicaid was commendable as their assistance will go a long way in supporting the wellbeing of the patients.
When asked if UATH is a beneficiary of Federal Government’s 750 million naira Cancer Health Fund which was included in the 2020 budget, Bisala said no, but that the hospital trusts to have more collaborations to support its work.
“This visit means a lot to us as an institution for various reasons. It is an encouragement that the little we do care for the sick, is appreciated by certain segments of the society.
“It is also signal, in fact it is also a stimulus to other organisations because the disease condition we are talking about does not discriminate it affects both the poor and the rich, why the rich might find a way to overcome in terms of treatment cost etcetera, the poor suffer a double jeopardy I must have put it.
“I think originally six hospitals were selected. We are not one of the six but that does not stop us from doing the little we need to do. If we are lucky we could get support from other organisations. More importantly, when the opportunity comes to expand the coverage beyond six hospitals, I have no doubt in my mind that we would also be considered.”
Patients were given financial support, bags of rice, and rechargeable fans to support them in the sunny weather of Gwagwalada.