Inadequate radiotherapy machines, poor maintenance culture, growing wealth inequality impacting cancer management, says Dr. Adamu Umar

The President, Nigerian Cancer Society, NCS, Dr. Adamu Umar has identified inadequacy of radiotherapy machines, poor maintenance culture in the Nigerian healthcare sector and growing wealth inequality in the Nigerian society among others as major factors militating against provision of quality cancer care for cancer patients in Nigeria.

Adamu revealed this Abuja, while speaking at a press conference to mark the 2022 World Cancer Day, themed “Close the Care Gap”, which was an activity by the Africa Health Budget Network, AHBN to advocate for improved cancer care in Nigeria.

The NCS President also spoke on the campaign by the Society to discourage harmful social behaviours, as he applauded the Federal Government for the 10% excise duty on each bottle of sugary drinks which will discourage consumption of such products, as well as generate revenue for the economy.

“As we sustain the momentum for change in healthcare delivery service in Nigeria, the Nigerian cancer society urges government at all levels to tackle the following key advocacy demands as matters of priority in order to close the care gaps that exist in our country.

“To ensure equitable distribution of health infrastructure especially at the primary healthcare level; intensify preventive programmes especially screening services; ensure timely rollout of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine campaign that is currently only on paper; also ensure prompt implementation and sustainability of the cancer health fund.”

While making a presentation on the sub-theme, “Cancer and Mental Health,” the President, Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative MHEI, Ameh Zion spoke on Mental Health Issues and the Mental Health Bill.

Ameh among other issues advocated for measures to be taken to establish psycho-social support and care for patients with cancer as according to him, the mental health problems of cancer patients are often not recognised in the cause of giving care.

“Almost every cancer patient will at one stage or the other, come down with either anxiety disorder or depression. This is to say that there should be improved deliberate research and studies around the relationship between mental health and cancer.

“This will help to improve the opportunities of treatment, the opportunities of care and the opportunities of psycho-social support. It is estimated that up to one third of people treated for cancer in hospitals have a common mental health condition. Rates of mental depressive disorders are thought to be up to three times higher than in the general population. ”Representing the Coordinator of AHBN, Dr. Aminu Magashi, the Programmes Officer, Dr. Obinna Onuoha recalled the pains endured by cancer patients who may be lacking care in various parts of the country and stressed the need for partners to continue to place issues of cancer in the front burner.

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