Cancer: A death sentence for Nigerians

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Cancer

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Prof. Sunday Adewuyi of Radiotherapy and Oncology Department, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Zaria, says cancer is a death sentence for patients in Nigeria.

He attributed the death sentence to non-availability of facilities and infrastructure for the treatment of cancer.

Adewuyi said this while speaking on “ Effective Communication As a Major Tool in the Fight Against Cancer” at a cancer sensitisation campaign and book launch on Thursday at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

The campaign was organised by the institution’s Centre of Excellence on Development Communication, in collaboration with Theatre for Development Centre, Zaria.

“Cancer is a death sentence because there is no available treatment or patients cannot access the treatment most times because it is unaffordable.

“Patients have continued to suffer agony and psychological torture by actions and inactions of government, health institutions, hospital leadership and medical staff,’’ the expert said.

According to him, only two out of the seven machines for the treatment of cancer are currently working in the country with one in Zaria and another at the National Hospital, Abuja.

He said that the country needed at least 600 of such machines to provide adequate services for cancer patients.

Adewuyi also identified other challenges to include low awareness, poverty, deficit infrastructure and manpower as well as high cost of health care, among others.

He stressed the need for government to rise up and help “walk the talk” to alleviate the suffering of cancer patients.

“We need infrastructure and manpower development, budgetary allocation and strong legislation, among others.

“Cancer is a challenge but not an end to life. We must fight this multi-faced enemy of mankind.

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“The first step in driving progress around cancer is to push for actions that will improve survival rates and give cancer patients a better quality of life,’’ he said.

He also said that educating and informing individuals and communities about lifestyle and cancer risk is a sure step in cancer prevention.

Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu, former Minister of Health, said that communication was key in fighting cancer.

According to him, treatment is very expensive, but prevention is cheaper, therefore, people need all the information necessary to prevent and manage cancer.

On her part, Mrs Eugenia Abu of Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), said that more women physicians and technicians were needed in screening and management of cancer in the country.

According to her, women are not too comfortable with men fondling with their private part during examination, screening or treatment.

“This is one of the reasons women do not go to hospital for cancer screening and management,” Abu said.

She advised that more women should be encouraged to go into those fields of medicine to bridge the gap.

Abu, who was the reviewer of the book, Pearl of Hope, written by a post graduate student of the university, Mr Ekpeno John, said that the book would bridge the communication gap on cancer awareness in the country.

She described the book as a concise cancer communication strategy, aimed at informing and educating people and communities through entertainment related activities.

John later told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that he was inspired to write the book, when he noticed the wide communication gap on cancer awareness, prevention and management.

The author noted that with good information many lives would be saved.

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