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Nigeria’s first cancer treatment centre takes off

L-R: Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Wife of Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo; CMD National Hospital, Dr Jaf Momoh

ABUJA – Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, led other government functionaries to commission Nigeria’s first cancer treatment centre in Abuja on Friday December 1.

The centre, equipped with State-of-the Art equipment for the management of all forms of cancer, is located at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Commissioning the facility, Mrs Dolapo promised that the Federal Government would do all within its power to make treatment available for patients with the killer disease in the country.

In his remarks, Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said the condition remained a public health challenge in Nigeria.

He said current global statistics revealed that over 7.6 million persons in 2008 died from various types of cancers, and that the figure had been projected to double to 13 million by 2030.

According to him, the World Health Organization reported that cancer alone accounts for 13 percent of all deaths registered globally, and 70% of the deaths occur in middle and low-income countries.

“In Nigeria, about 10,000 cancer deaths are recorded annually while 250,000 new cases are recorded yearly. It is also worrisome that only 17% of African countries are said to have sufficiently funded cancer control programmes, while less than half of all countries in the world have functional plans to prevent the disease and provide treatment and care to patients.

“We are here to witness the flag-off of Linac radiotherapy treatment facility and treatment of first patient with multileave Linear Accelerator State-of-the Art machine radiotherapy centre.

“This Radiotherapy Centre contains a Computer Tomography Simulation Room, 2 bunkers, seminar rooms, office space, Radiation monitoring and maintenance Rooms.

“The equipment we are putting to use today was procured in 2013 well before the present administration came on board and kept in a crate in the hospital.  Consistent with the change mantra of the present administration, we were determined to put this equipment to use no matter the obstacles,” he said.

Adewole said cancer control is one of the signature programmes of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. He revealed that in 2018, the Federal Government would invest in at least eight new radiotherapy treatment centres and chemotherapy facilities across all geopolitical zones in the country.

He pledged that a second machine of the same type and model would be available in the next three months courtesy of donation by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCO) at a cost of over a million dollars.

He assured that Buhari’s administration is committed to ensuring that affordable cancer care is made available to people in the country as soon as possible.

The minister noted that he was particularly happy that radiotherapy treatment would be available to Nigerians both at the National Hospital and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital.

“Government is also committed to completing this entire complex as a national centre of excellence for cancer treatment. I have also encouraged some state governments to invest on both radiotherapy and chemotherapy so as to improve quality of care and survival.

“This will give access to this modality of treatment for all our citizens at affordable cost. This will stem the tide of capital flight with huge economic loss where Nigerians go to India and other parts of the world seeking this treatment,” he said.

In his address, the Chief Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Jaf Momoh, described  the new LINAC as  “the first of its kind in Nigeria,” saying  the equipment has passed the necessary quality requirements with licence for its use from the relevant regulatory agencies including the IAEA. He also disclosed that the  staff of relevant departments have been trained on its use.

Dr. Momoh however said that additional support would be needed to complete the entire complex and provide the necessary equipment and relevant manpower to run it as a centre of excellence for cancer care.

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