By Lisa Vives, Global Information Network
NEW YORK (IDN) — Nigeria has one of the highest cancer mortality rates in the world, with an estimated 72,000 cancer deaths occurring annually and 102,000 new cases diagnosed from its population of 200 million people, according to a report in Frontiers in Oncology.
Breast cancer accounted for the highest mortality, followed by prostate cancer. “(But) there is no efficient public policy on cancer issues,” says Chioma Obinna, writer of Good Health Weekly for Nigeria’s Vanguard newspaper. “And cancer mortality among Nigerians continues to rise despite improvement in cancer care across the world.”
“A case in point is Nkechi Odogwu, diagnosed of stage 1 cancer at but who lost the battle for life due to prolonged appointments, breakdown of equipment and the high cost of care, among other treatment challenges.”
“Federal and state governments are still paying lip service to issues around health,” she complains.
Nigeria was part of the historic 2001 Abuja Declaration, which mandates African Union member states to allocate a minimum of 15 percent of their national budgets to healthcare,” noted Obinna, “but Nigeria never fulfilled this recommendation.”
“The national health budgetary allocation for 2022 is below six percent even as political office holders continue to take capital flight for medical treatment overseas, depleting the country’s foreign reserve and worsening the medical tourism problem that consumes over $1 billion annually.”
Further, the cost of treating cancer remains prohibitive,” says Ms. Obinna. “Most Nigerians pay out-of-pocket for their medical treatment as the National Health Insurance Scheme has failed woefully.”
“Currently, the coverage of the scheme remains below 5 percent. Speciality care such as radiotherapy costs about N1 million per person per treatment cycle at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital.
Unfortunately, Libya is experiencing political chaos right now, says Asmaa Jumaa Jouili, President of the Libyan Union for Cancer Control. “The Ministry of Health has failed but our work with the awareness campaign involving over a thousand volunteers. Fortunately we do not depend on ministries or government departments.”
Data from the World Health Organization reveal that at least 44,699 women died of cancer in 2021. [IDN-InDepthNews — 24 October 2022]
Image: Cancer. Source: Vanguard, Nigeria
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