‘Two out of 10 radiotherapy machines working nationwide’

Cancer cells

Cancer cells

• As Sebeccly targets first Cancer Survivorship Centre

Experts in the cancer care management in the country have bemoaned the dearth of equipment to handing the population of Nigerians coming down with the disease.

Of particular concern for the oncologists, is the situation where only two out of 10 cancer radiotherapy machines are working nationwide.

The Guardian gathered that several of the machines have broken down for several months without concrete plans to fix them. Patients with advance stages of cancer are therefore stranded in several states, without opportunity of care.

In a related development, Sebeccly Cancer Care (Sebeccly) is targeting a Cancer Survivorship Centre (CSC) to increase the capacity of its care services and provide an enabling environment for cancer patients, survivors and loved ones to focus on survivorship and empowerment.

The centre, as part of plans to celebrate 10 years of Sebeccly’s impact on Nigerian cancer patients, is the first in West Africa and will attract a fund-raising on September 25, 2016 in Lagos.

Renowned oncologist, Prof. Kofi Duncan said it was regrettable that governments at all levels have not deemed it fit to invest more in cancer treatments, as expected in a country with high population of cancer-related sicknesses and deaths.

Duncan, who is the first radiotherapist in West Africa, said while the state-of-the-art equipment like linear accelerator are still far-fetched amidst power supply challenges, the basic equipment like radiotherapy machines should have been kept functional nationwide.

He said: “We are having instances were patients, all the way from Abakaliki and the north are coming to Lagos to use the machine. Such is not necessary at all. That is why we need political-will and deployment of funds to meet the needs of the ordinary persons, and cancer care happens to be one of the needs of the ordinary person.

“I am very worried about the dearth of functional radiotherapy machines. The machines are bad. People are not properly advised. Perhaps I should take part of the blame because I didn’t shout enough. I was too busy taking care of my patients to make them feel better.

“The important point is that if we don’t have money harnessed for big machines, we at least must develop a mood to make the ordinary patient feel comfortable,” he said.

Consultant Radiation Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr. Omolola Salako, said that cancer affects a significant proportion of Nigerians, with two in every three presenting at late (stages three and four), when almost all hopes are lost.

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