Oyo to establish 165 cancer screening centres in 5 years

Ajimobi, education, health, Oyo
Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi

TARGETED at controlling cancer incidences, the Oyo State Government, on Tuesday, kick-started a five years plan that will see the establishment of 165 cancer screening centres across the state that are capable of examining 500,000 persons every year.

The State Cancer Control Plan unveiled by Governor Abiola Ajimobi at Civic Centre, Ibadan, will among others, include the compilation of a comprehensive cancer registry, and adoption of a referral system for cancer cases.

Wife of the governor of Oyo State, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, who espoused the contents of the plan, however, said that the establishment of a cancer fund to support cancer patients in the state was imperative.

In her speech, Mrs Ajimobi decried that about 90 percent of people knew their cancer status late, owing to the dearth of diagnostic centres and died of cancer due to the expensive cost of treatment.

She bemoaned the threat posed by cancer to womanhood and families, urging people to shun a lifestyle of excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, inadequate exercise.

“Over the next 3 months, 1320 nurses across the 33 local government areas of the state will be trained on cancer screening and 165 screening centres (5 in each LGA) capable of screening 500 thousand people annually will be established across the state.

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“A referral system and cancer screening guidelines will be adopted for the state while cancer directories will be compiled and circulated to all relevant stakeholders. In collaboration with the renowned Ibadan cancer registry, we intend to establish a comprehensive cancer registry for the state.

“Although this plan has been designed to be sustainable, there is a need to establish a Cancer fund to support cancer patients in the state.

I am also aware that the Oyo state health insurance agency is almost done with plans to incorporate cancer care into all its products and packages.

Over the next five years, the cancer space in Oyo state will witness a steady and progressive transformation to the benefit of all of us and by the grace of the almighty God. To make this happen, however, we all have roles to play if we are to kick cancer out of Oyo state. We need to start living healthy and taking care of our environment. Everyone is a principal stakeholder on this journey and I implore you to please support the anti-cancer movement in the state,” Mrs Ajimobi said.

In his remarks, Ajimobi harped on the need for effective collaboration between government and the private sector on ensuring the successful implementation of the plan as well as improving health delivery.

“Effective health care service delivery the world over is a joint venture between government and the private sector it is evident that health cannot be sustained by government’s efforts alone. A lot can be achieved by a collective will backed by significant action which can bring about the remarkable impetus to the system,” Ajimobi said.

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Speaking, Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole said the federal government was working to reduce the cost of cancer treatment drugs by 50 percent as well as reducing the cost of treatment from the correct charge of $2,000.

In this light, Adewole said the federal government was poised to establish eight cancer centres in the next one year, starting with the centre at the National Hospital, Abuja.

Adewole also emphasized the imperatives of early detection, noting that about 80 percent could either be cured or prevented.

While saluting the Oyo state government for setting the pace through the setting up of a cancer control plan, Adewole said successful implementation of the money required adequate funding.

“40 percent of cancers can be prevented and 40 percent of cancers can be treated when they are picked early. This means that 80 percent of cancers can either be prevented or cured if detected early. If cancers present early, they can be cured, but if they present late, as we have today, nobody can cure it, not even America.

“It is expensive but we are working to reduce the cost of treatment. In nearby Ghana, it costs about $10,000 to treat cancer. With the machines in Abuja, we charge $2,000, it is cheaper in Nigeria, but it is still expensive.

“The cost of the drugs is also very prohibitive and for us in Nigeria, there are other challenges. People say we need to buy machines, but there are other competing demands. There is measles, diarrhoea, vomiting, monkeypox, polio, all kinds of Lassa, these are competing demands and that is why we cannot put all the money on cancer. We need to prevent it and need to fill capacity for cancer care. We also need to bring it down to the community level and that is why what is happening in ABC is unique.

“Our ambition is to improve cure and the quality of care we offer our people. We are working to reduce the cost of drugs and doing pull procurement and many of these companies are prepared to reduce the price of the drugs by more than 50 percent if we buy in bulk.

“Our plan is to have eight centres in the next one year. We are working to upgrade our tertiary centres. We have almost sorted out the National Hospital, Abuja. When this administration came into office, there was a Cancer machine in the crypt for three years, we have restored that machine and it is now working, it treats up to 100 patients every day. We have partnered with a company which has donated a second machine. Abuja will be the first hospital with two machines working at the same time,” Adewole said.

Aside from admonishing women to regularly self-examine their breasts, keynote speaker, Professor Abayomi Durosinmi-Etti also harped on the imperativeness for women, especially those in their 30s and 40s, to surrender themselves for cancer screening once a year.

Mentioning that cancer was preventable and treatable, Durosinmi-Etti, who is Professor of Radiation Therapy and Oncology, urged Nigerians to be wary of their habits and lifestyles, family history, and submit themselves for regular screening and medical check-ups.

While noting that cancer of the breast and cancer of the cervix accounted for over 50 percent of cancers in Nigeria, Durosinmi-Etti emphasized that early detection of cancer remained most important for effective treatment.

He prayed that the federal government continues to work towards ensuring that the cost of treating cheaper is less expensive, as well as establish more cancer treatment centres with modern equipment, across the country.

A cancer survivor, Mrs Folake Stephens admonished women to go for routine medical screening, though she lamented that many women could not afford the charge for screening and treatment.

Wife of Niger state governor, Dr Amina Bello, who also rendered her remarks, averred that just like Oyo state had done, other states should have a strategic plan to address the menace posed by cancer.

In his opening remarks, Commissioner of Health in Oyo state, Dr Azeez Adeduntan said the cancer plan was to ensure that Oyo state does not continue to lose her residents to cancer which if detected early is treatable.

Other guests at the launch included, wife of Kwara State Governor, Mrs Omolewa Ahmed represented by Mr Lanre Bello; Chief Medical Director, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge; Deputy Speaker, Oyo House of Assembly, Honourable Abdulwasi Musah; Provost, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Professor Oluwabunmi Olapade-Olaopa; members of the Oyo state executive council.

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