.As FG moves to arrest medical tourism
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Recent study and revelations emanating from a research conducted by the International Agency for research on Cancer, IARC in collaboration with National Cancer Institute, United States America, USA, revealed a threatening projection that by the end of 2030, 30 million people in the world, representing 39.6 percent of both men and women living with cancer in the world will be dead.
Meantime, wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, on behalf of the Federal Government has commissioned a radiotherapy centre with a new multi-leave lenear accelerator equipment for cancer treatment at the National Hospital, Abuja, which aimed at stemming medical tourism abroad.
While commissioning the centre, Mrs. Osinbajo, commended the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Health and the hospital management for making the facility a reality.
She described the death of close to 15000 Nigerians annually as unimaginable and assured that the present administration under the leadership of President Buhari would ensure that qualitative health delivery system is restored. “I look forward to a day that the cure of cancer shall finally come but I am delighted that despite limited resources, the country is taking giant strides in the right direction, with the installation of the machine, there is hope for cancer patients as they will be helped with the facility,”
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who gave the cancer statics at the commissioning, noted pathetically, that cancer had become one of the most deadly leading causes of death in the world.
According to him, study by the above mentioned institutes revealed that 12.7 million new cases of cancer was discovered in 2008 with 7.6 million cancer related death recorded, as at year 2012, the number of death globally has increased by 100 percent to 14 million.
He said, “An overview of this frightening analysis further revealed that 56 percent of the newly reported cancer cases occurred in developing countries with Africa having the highest number of morbidity and mortality, owing to geometric increase in population growth with the commonest of cervical, breast and prostate cancer leading the chart.
“Sadly, Nigeria has the highest concentration of cancer cases in Africa as 100,000 new cases occur yearly and 15 percent death recorded representing 20 percent of Africa`s death ratio.
“The most unfortunate perspective to the menace is the myopic view that cancer is a disease of the rich and wealthy whereas studies have shown that the poor and downtrodden are also suffering in silence, they have accepted as fate, as such death sentence when confronted with the cancer disease as they cannot afford the cost of management.
“Sadly again, just like every critical sector of Nigeria before the advent of the Buhari administration which was in an appalling state, there was no single federal health facility where radiotherapy could be performed in Nigeria, as seven out of the teaching hospitals where such diagnostic equipment were totally in bad shape and nonfunctional, making Nigeria to lose foreign exchange in medical tourism to countries like India, China, South Africa and even Ghana.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had nominated Adewole, a renowned and seasoned medical professional with intimidating profile with enviable successes, a man who was at a time the President Elect of the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) saddled with responsibility to fashion a 5 year strategic plan for the organization and develop capacity of African Physicians and Nurses to manage, treat and prevent cancer.
He categorically and expressly promised to build seven state of the art centres of excellence for cancer management in the country. However, owing to the global economic meltdown which plunged Nigeria into recession and the huge deficit of 48 percent in expected revenue, the promise by the professor of obstetrics and gynecology becomes gloomy and unrealizable in the past months.
Interestingly, the journey to this noble feat started in late 2016 when and where Adewole paid a working visit to the hospital to access the state of infrastructure and discovered that a brand new radiotherapy machine was purchased and supplied in 2013 , investigation carried out showed that the machine was not assembled or installed but still in the crate of the manufacturer.
The minister, however, lamented the decay in medical infrastructure inherited by the present administration in terms of equipment, logistics and foreign relations with international partners.
He explained that based on the review of international atomic energy of all countries conducted in 2013, only South Africa and Egypt have the material capability of treating and managing cancer, he further reassured the commitment of the government to upgrade seven other cancer centres in the 2018 budget in order to minimize the burden of cancer and associated death rates, re-emphasizing the positive effect the machine would have on other vital organs of the body when precise diagnosis is carried out.
“The encouraging report about the entire radiotherapy project at the national hospital is that about a 100 cancer patients can now use the machine daily, the urge and zeal for medical tourism will be on the decline as the newly installed machine is one of the most advanced and sophisticated technology in the world with standard ratings with what is obtained in European countries, India and South Africa. “
The minister, also got financial commitment of Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company SNEPCO to a tune of over $1million dollar for purchase of another brand new LINAC radiotherapy equipment to be installed into second bunker at the National Hospital by January 2018, same goes for NDDC which promised to install the same equipment at the University of Uyo and University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospitals, while the Kano State Governor also signified intention to purchase brand new LINAC radiotherapy equipment .
The drive of the President Buhari led administration to completely overhaul the health system in Nigeria is fast gaining momentum as his vision for the revitalization of functional Primary Healthcare Centres, PHCs, had yielded 1100 facilities already with the second phase of 774 under construction which will in turn reduce the unnecessary pressure on the secondary and tertiary medical centres as they will be a place of reference to manage topical disease associated with our region like malaria, hypertension, vaccination and immunization, tuberculosis, ante and post natal care, among others.