As part of efforts to bridge the cancer care gap in the country, the federal government has commissioned Brachytherapy Machines in five Federal Teaching Hospitals across the country.
The benefiting hospitals include the National Hospital Abuja, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu, University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) Benin, University Teaching Hospital (UCH) Ibadan and Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) Zaria.
Minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, also disclosed that the federal government was set to procure, install and train for Radiotherapy and Nuclear medicine facilities at benefiting institutions for implementation before the end of March, 2023.
The minister disclosed this during a ministerial press briefing and virtual commissioning of the machines in commemoration of 2023 World Cancer Day, themed: “Closing the Cancer Care Gap” in Abuja.
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He said the Federal Ministry Health has achieved several ‘FIRSTs’ in improving access to quality and affordable cancer services nationwide, adding that the ministry in collaboration with partners, introduced the Cancer Access Partnership (CAP) Programs, to provide quality anticancer medicines to patients at 50 percent of market price.
“The CAP program currently operates in 16 tertiary hospitals, but I have now approved inclusion of all tertiary hospitals across the country. Furthermore, I approved inclusion of diagnostic services, such as immunohistochemistry (IHC) in the CAP Program for optimal cancer management.
“It is still in the spirit of ‘Closing the Care gap’ that the federal government established the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) for comprehensive treatment of cancers of the breast, cervix and prostate to indigent patients, at no cost, in all six geopolitical zones.
“The CHF is driven by donors and contributions: I therefore call on all and sundry to donate generously, to enable us to increase beneficiaries and expand coverage, with regard to other cancer types, especially childhood cancers,” Ehanire said.
The president, Nigeria Cancer Society, Dr. Adamu Umar, applauded the federal government for the creation of the Cancer Health Fund (CHF), CAP programme, inclusion of cancer treatment in the national health insurance Authority (NHIA), installation of modern radiotherapy machines in some teaching hospitals among others.
However, he expressed concern over the present huge cancer care gap in the areas of access to cancer care by the country’s teaming cancer patients, cancer registration, low budgetary provision to health and cancer research amongst others in our country.
He, therefore, expedient for all hands to be on deck towards addressing these gaps as the country targets to achieve universal health coverage for all its citizens.