A consultant oncologist, Dr Ololade Kehinde, has urged the Federal Government to include cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) for unhindered access to effective healthcare system.
Kehinde, is a lecturer of Relation Biology and Radiotherapy, at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Idi-Araba, Lagos,
He spoke on the commemoration of the 2018 World Cancer Day, with the theme: “We can. I can”.
Kehinde said the three tiers of government should show their commitment to the people’s health by ensuring that they get good and adequate access to cancer treatment.
The oncologist said that this would enable more people who could not avoid the treatment to get access to it through NHIS.
“Most developed countries like United States of America, United Kingdom and South Africa had included cancer treatment in their NHIS from diagnosis to treatment and Radiotherapy. Cancer does not choose who it will affect, which means it can affect anybody.The major key to survival of cancer is early detection by reducing the risk factors such as stop smoking, drinking alcohol, sedentary lifestyle and weight gain,” he said.
According to him, there is a development in cancer treatment in United Kingdom, because some of the experimental drugs have been accepted into their NHIS.
“In Nigeria, especially Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), the new development in cancer treatment is the establishment of the one stop breast clinic which brings the multispecialty team together. The multispecialty team comprises oncologist, pathologist, radiotherapist and surgeon, which helps the patient to see the experts and complete diagnosis in a day instead of six months. The direct impact it has on the patient is that cancer will be diagnosed early and they will be well treated immediately to avoid complications. The main focus is on breast cancer because it is the commonest cancer among women, while prostate cancer is common in men,” he said.
Kehinde said that major challenges in oncology practice were lack of infrastructure facilities, brain drain and manpower.
“There is a need to increase the number of oncologists and other cancer specialists in the country,” he said.
Kehinde advised women to always do self-breast examination and get pap smear regularly to avoid breast and cervical cancer, while men should go for prostate cancer screening annually.
He called on the governments to establish more advanced diagnostic cancer centres with good equipment in all states within the country.
World Cancer Day is an international day marked every February 4, to raise awareness of cancer and encourage its prevention, detection and treatment.