By Lubem Gena
A non-governmental organisation, Stand Up To Cancer Naija, has urged the federal government to include the treatment of cancer to the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), to enable more people have access to cancer treatment and management in the country.
Worried by menace, the organisation organised a free breast cancer testing for residents of Abuja at the weekend.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) report, cancer is a major cause of global deaths with seven million being recorded every year and 72 per cent of such deaths occurring in middle income countries such as Nigeria.
Also, available statistics indicate that about 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer annually. 40 women die from breast cancer, 26 men die from prostate cancer, one Nigerian woman dies every hour from cervical cancer.
Founder and project director of the NGO, Caleb Egwuenu, speaking to journalists at the event tagged: “Eat and Screen” regretted that despite the prevalence of cancer, there were no adequate facilities for its treatment.
While acknowledging the private facilities for their intervention in chemotherapy and all other things, he noted that the cost was beyond the average Nigerian.
He said: “This is where we want the government to include cancer treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), so that patients who are on the scheme won’t have to pay for cancer treatment from their pockets.
“Government needs to do a lot more about the treatment of cancer in Nigeria. Recently, I heard that none of the radiotherapy machines in the country was working. The government needs to provide more treatment centres in the country so that when this awareness is created and people find out that they need medicare they can find somewhere close to them at a reduced cost.”