•Patients speak on costs, burden of cancer in Nigeria
Project Pink Blue, a non-governmental organization supporting indigent cancer patients and promoting advocacy on the disease, says it is set to launch a N100 million support fund to assist indigent cancer patients in Nigeria.
Addressing newsmen on the launch, scheduled for November this year in Abuja recently, Executive Director of the organization, Runcie Chidebe, noted that cancer treatment is very expensive, adding that financial support for indigent patients remains very important to their survival.
He said the event, themed “Show Love” focuses on encouraging well-meaning Nigerians to support cancer patients.
“We can provide awareness, we can provide free screening, we can provide needed education, but if we don’t provide financial support to help the cancer patients on their treatment, then, our cycle of care is not complete,” he said.
Project Manager for the event, Fatima Abba-Gana, said early detection is also very key to defeating cancer, and that the society should see the need for helping those who are already down with the ailment.
“Early detection saves lives. Sometimes, people are diagnosed of cancer very early, but they cannot afford the treatment. This becomes a serious challenge to their survival. According to a report of oncological care in the country, a woman needs about N2.1 million to N29.2 million to treat breast cancer, depending on the type of breast cancer. This is because a woman may need about eight series of diagnosis which costs between N232, 000 to N312,000. She will need about three surgeries which will cost her about N670,000 to N3.3 million.
“She will also need chemotherapy for over 10 sessions which may cost about N916, 000 to N2.6 million naira, depending on the breast cancer. And, finally, she may require radiotherapy for about 10 to 23 sessions which may cost N138,000 to N350,000. That is for breast cancer patients in Nigeria.”
A beneficiary of the organization’s support, Mrs Julianah Igagu disclosed at the briefing that she has spent nine million naira on her breast cancer treatment and will spend more as her treatment continues at the National Hospital, Abuja.
She was diagnosed of the disease in 2017, and was given treatment cost of N9 million.
She said her salary as a civil servant could not have kept her alive if Project Pink Blue had not come to her rescue and had been paying for her care.
Another breast cancer survival, Mr. Chuks Igbokwe, appealed that people in the country assist with donations for cancer patient through the launch. “I have been surviving for the past 10 years,” he said.
He lamented exclusion of cancer treatment on the National Health Insurance Scheme. He said the disease is increasingly being seen as a health challenge, and that many people are dying of the disease, despite the fact that it is preventable and treatable.
Quoting a recent World Health Organization’s report, he noted that there are 115,150 new cases of cancer in Nigeria annually, and 70,237 cancer deaths yearly in the country.
Breast cancer, he noted, is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the country, killing 70,227 people annually.
The launch will be graced by leading artists and comedians in the country, and will have Kebbi state governor, Abubakar Bagudu as guest of honour, alongside his wife. Wives of Kwara, Kogi and Ondo state governors are some of the expected guests at the event.