by Femi Ogunshola
Narrating her wife’s experience with cancer of the breast, Olaleye Kolawole, father of three, said on Dec. 20, 2016, Oluwatoyin was diagnosed with cancer of the breast, after a biopsy.
Kolawole said that he resorted to treating the cancer with natural herbs.
He added that an average patient is not usually well informed about cancer because of scanty information.
“We have heard of the terrible side effects of chemotherapy and as such, we made our innocent move by contacting a naturopath who assured us total recovery and clean bill of health.’’
Kolawole said: “My wife was dying and she will not hear of chemotherapy, I was equally mentally broken, but I needed to manage the whole scenario politically.’’
However, kolawole revealed that early 2018, the tumour metastasized, which compelled him to return his wife to the hospital.
He said that Dr Samuel Olatoke, a consultant at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital advised on radiotherapy, which result, later helped to salvage the situation after heavy expenses to cure the cancer.
Observers say many people are unaware that cancer is becoming alarming and one of the leading cause of death globally.
In 2018, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), cancer accounted for an estimated 9.6 million deaths.
This according to WHO, is despite the fact that 30 per cent to 50 per cent of cancers are preventable, and another 30 per cent of the death avoidable, if detected and treated early.
Dr Francis Faduyile, the President of Nigeria Medical Association (NMA), stressed the need for early cancer diagnosis.
He also suggested putting in place a National Policy on Cancer.
Faduyile said this would make diagnosis of cancer very easy, stressing that most cancer problem in the country stemmed from late diagnosis.
According to him, cancer treatment is very expensive and the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) should include it in the scheme to help cushion the effect of the cost.
Faduyile said that without appropriate interventions, it was projected that new cases of cancer would increase steadily to an estimated 19.3 million new cases in 2025; this he said must not be allowed to continue
He reiterated the importance of having a clear policy on cancer care in the country, noting that there should be implementation of the National Cancer Control Plan 2018-2020 and effective funding of cancer care and research.
The NMA president listed steps to take to prevent cancer, adding that it was imperative to encourage cancer prevention and build structure for prompt diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
Mr Yusuf Tanko Sununu, Chairman House Committee on Healthcare Services, while expressing worry over the devastating effect of cancer in the country, said he lost his father to the dreaded disease.
“I know how expensive it is and this is a disease that need serious attention and stakeholders must join hands to find a lasting solution to stop cancer in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Sununu said that he knew how painful it could be to lose loved one to the scourge of cancer, stating that a comprehensive approach to cancer prevention, screening and treatment in the country must be in place.
The lawmaker stated that there was need for the inclusion of cancer care in the NHIS, because the scourge remained a serious challenge in the country
He said that the Primary Healthcare Centres (PHC) across the country must also benefit from cancer treatment in order to take care of the people at the grassroots.
Sununu also called for the strengthening of the primary method of prevention, stressing that the House Committee on Healthcare Services would partner the Senate Committee to fashion out a bill that would help cancer patients in the country.
He said that the move would help to reduce the burden of cancer treatment in the country, noting that stakeholders in the health sector should contribute to ensure the success of the bill.
Dr Bello Mohammed, the President, African Organisation for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC), said that the vision of the group is to have a Nigeria with universal health coverage that would include the treatment of cancer.
He reinstated the need to move the cancer agenda forward, adding that the plight of cancer patients was becoming very bitter, and it would be difficult to have proper cancer coverage without an enabling law.
Mohammed stressed the imperative of diagnosis, which according to him, is key in addressing the scourge of cancer, adding that in Nigeria, there is no molecular diagnosis centre, while Egypt has seven.
Mohammed called for immediate unbundling of all bureaucratic bottlenecks that frustrate the effort of private individual and participants that craved to invest in such area, nothing that it does not augur well for the country.
Dr Sunday Omoya, the Chairman, NMA National Committee on Cancer, said it was time to build strong alliance among stakeholders that would work to build strong partnership to address the scourge of cancer.
He said that it was necessary to have a coordinated fight against cancer to ensure impactful result.
According to him, NMA will continue to partner all relevant stakeholders in the fight against the cancer scourge.