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Nigerians face high cancer treatment cost

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By Mercy Kelani

Cancer Health Fund has only managed to assist 20 patients since its inception.

Despite the Cancer Health Fund’s establishment by both the government and private sector to combat cancer mortality in Nigeria, indigent Nigerians persistently face immense hardships and fatalities as a result of exorbitant treatment expenses. Tragically, the fund has only managed to assist a mere 20 patients since its inception. The shortage of cancer specialists poses a major challenge to cancer treatment in the nation. Concerned experts are worried that the government’s efforts to combat the cancer epidemic may be hindered due to the high cost of treatment and the limited number of oncologists available.

Private institutions successfully lobbied the federal government to create a unique fund initially named the catastrophe fund, leading to the creation of the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) program. Beginning in 2021, the program launched in six major health facilities: Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, National Hospital Abuja, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, and University College Hospital, Ibadan. The CHF, which aims to support cancer patients in need, was intended to receive financial contributions from both the federal government and the private sector. However, only the federal government has been making contributions, amounting to approximately $4 million.

FG has donated approximately $4 million to the fund.

Dr. Usman Waziri, the Cancer Prevention and Control acting director at the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), highlighted that an obstacle faced by CHF is its struggle to rally support from the private sector, various donor agencies, international partners, and philanthropists, hindering their ability to make significant contributions. From the beginning, he mentioned how the government has consistently supported the program by providing financial resources to the CHF every year. However, he subtly indicated that the private sector has not been proactive in contributing. Since its establishment, the federal government has donated approximately $4 million to the fund, according to his statement. He emphasized that despite being in a pilot stage, the fund should have been expanded.

This year alone, more than 2,000 patients have utilized the platform for applications. Among them, over 720 have undergone screening, and 20 individuals have benefited from the fund since its inception. He stated that instead of considering the number as optimal, it would be more appropriate to label it as suboptimal. In the midst of desperate attempts to alleviate the impact of cancer within the nation, the federal government devised the creation of NICRAT. The 9th Assembly passed a bill for the establishment of NICRAT in 2017, although the agency did not materialize until January 2023.

Stakeholders urge the gov’t to prioritize cancer treatment facilities.

The federal government is transferring the implementation of the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) from the Ministry of Health to NICRAT, with ongoing efforts to review and expand its activities. The CHF aims to combat breast, cervical, and prostate cancer, addressing the relentless rise of cancer-related deaths in Nigeria. The country faces challenges such as a shortage of specialists, limited access to radiotherapy, and high treatment costs. With only around 100 oncologists for a population of 200 million, stakeholders urge the government to prioritize cancer treatment facilities and professionals.

Concerns about healthcare expert emigration and the need for improved living conditions are emphasized, with appeals for increased funding to enhance the healthcare sector. The importance of early cancer detection is highlighted due to a survival rate below 50%, and the suggestion is made for oncologists to actively teach other medical professionals to reduce the burden of cancer treatment. Prof. Francis Durosinmi-Etti proposes using Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a solution to mitigate brain drain in the Nigerian healthcare industry. Durosinmi-Etti highlights advancements in cancer treatment in Nigeria, crediting government initiatives and private centres.

Related Article: Nigeria Records 120,000 Cancer Cases Yearly

Regardless of the progress, challenges include a shortage of oncologists and high treatment costs, with AI proposed as a solution. AI implementation at LUTH has shown significant benefits in accelerating cancer treatment processes. Dr. Lilian Ekpo from NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre applauds collaborative efforts but emphasizes the need for full implementation of the National Health Insurance Act. The centre, equipped with advanced technology, has made strides in providing treatments and pioneering initiatives, urging routine screenings and healthier lifestyles for cancer prevention.


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AN-Toni
Editor
23 days ago

Nigerians face high cancer treatment cost.Cancer Health Fund has only managed to assist 20 patients since its inception.Express your point of view.

Taiwo
Member
22 days ago

Cancer therapy is expensive for Nigerians. The Cancer Health Fund has only been able to help 20 patients since its founding.deprived Due to extremely high medical costs, Nigerians continue to experience severe suffering and even death. Cancer treatment is severely hampered by the lack of cancer specialists.

SarahDiv
Member
22 days ago

Cancer treatment costs remain prohibitive for many Nigerians despite the establishment of the Cancer Health Fund, which has only assisted a small number of patients since its inception. Urgent action is needed to increase support from both the government and the private sector to improve access to affordable treatment options for all Nigerians facing this health challenge.

Adeoye Adegoke
Member
22 days ago

That’s really concerning to hear that Nigerians are facing high cancer treatment costs and that the Cancer Health Fund has only been able to assist a small number of patients. Access to affordable healthcare is crucial, especially when it comes to life-threatening conditions like cancer. It’s important for the government and relevant stakeholders to prioritize healthcare funding and work towards creating more accessible and affordable treatment options for all Nigerians. This could include initiatives such as expanding health insurance coverage, increasing funding for cancer research and treatment facilities, and collaborating with international organizations to access affordable medications. By addressing these challenges, we can ensure that more individuals have access to the necessary treatment and support they need during such difficult times.

Kazeem1
Member
22 days ago

Prioritizing healthcare financing and establishing more easily available and reasonably priced treatment choices for all Nigerians is crucial for the government and pertinent stakeholders.Enhancing the availability of reasonably priced treatment choices requires immediate action on the part of the public and commercial sectors.