Nigeria’s minister of health, Isaac Adewole says the there is no single functional cancer treating machine in any hospital in the country. The minister revealed the sad information in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria, NAN. He disclosed that out of the 200 which Nigeria requires, only seven were available, but none is in order.
“As we are talking today, there is no public hospital in Nigeria that has cancer treatment machine that is working,” he said.
“Ideally, we need one machine per one million people. Going by that, Nigeria should have about 200 cancer treatment machines. We have seven, but none of the seven machines is working today.
“But in the 2017 budget, we will ensure that each of the seven centres has two machines which means one will be a backup.
“We will upgrade Maiduguri, Zaria, Ilorin, the National Hospital, Abuja, Ibadan, Benin and Enugu in the first phase.
“We are likely to get a private sector organisation to help with the National Hospital; in fact we may sign the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this month.
“If we take National Hospital out, we will go to Sokoto. Gombe is waiting. Jos will be in the second round. I got a grant some years back to set up six centres of excellence.
“I put one in Jos, and I can tell you that Jos is one of the best. They have done better than Ibadan. The government is committed to making sure that we have the facilities to handle cancer cases.”
He said government had developed special interest in breast and cervical, which has been ravaging Nigerians.
Adewole revealed that a national cancer plan by a committee that would be chaired by him would review the issue of facilities.
He also emphasised the importance of early detention in the treatment of cancer.
“Due to my interest in cancer, the cancer burden is of concern to me,” he said.
The first thing we want to do is to revise the National Cancer Plan. We are also setting up a steering committee, which I will also chair.
“I agree cancer is a major problem and it is increasing. As people grow older, more people will have cancer, because those cell divisions that take place in our system grow abnormal.
“What is important for us to do is to increase awareness. That’s why we are working with the media. If we increase awareness many of those things that are indicative of early cancer will make people to go to hospital and get treatment.
“Most cancers can be treated if presented early. But people don’t come for treatment early. Someone close to me has breast cancer. She said she does not want the breast to be removed and I told her that when the breast cancer starts smelling you will hate yourself.
“On cervical cancer; fortunately we now know what causes it. There is a vaccine now that prevents the disease and we are working to make the vaccine available.
“We are training more people for the detection of the cancer of the cervix. Much more important also in our 2017 budget we want to upgrade seven more centres for the treatment of cancer.”