By Emegwoako C. Paschal
According to Dr. Adamu Umar, President of the Nigerian Cancer Society, the country has only 13 radiotherapy machines for its large population.
However, according to Dr. Umar, the majority of radiotherapy machines in government healthcare facilities are not operational.
Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment that employs high-energy beams to kill cancer cells.
According to the World Health Organization, radiotherapy is used to treat more than 50% of cancer patients, and it is frequently used to treat the most common types, such as breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer. However, access to radiotherapy is insufficient, especially in low- and middle-income countries.
According to Globocan statistics, there were 211,052 cases of breast, prostate, cervical, colorectum, and non-Hodgkin lymphoma cancer in Nigeria in 2018.
Globocan is an online database that provides global cancer statistics and estimates of incidence and mortality for 36 types of cancer and all cancer sites combined in 185 countries.
Dr. Umar stated in an interview, “We have nine radiotherapy machines that either belong to the government or are part of a public-private partnership with the government.”
“We have seven across the federation: the National Hospital in Abuja; the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital in Enugu; the University College Hospital in Ibadan; the Usman Danfodio Teaching Hospital in Sokoto; the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria; and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital in Idi-Araba, Lagos.” Aside from the one at LUTH, there is one at the NSIA LUTH Cancer Centre.
“When you consider the ones in private facilities like the Marcelle Ruth Cancer Centre & Specialist Hospital, Lagos; Duchess Hospital, Lagos; Me Cure Healthcare, Lagos; and other private facilities, we can say we have 13.”
“The problem with government machines is that most of them are not functioning, and even those that are, the requisite staff to manage them, who will require extensive training, are not adequately trained, and when the machines break down, you will have to import the parts.”
“In Nigeria, we should have at least 300 radiotherapy machines instead of the 13 that we currently have.” Many African countries do not even have the machine, but we do, albeit with difficulty.
“There is currently an ongoing state-of-the-art cancer center in Maiduguri; Federal Medical Centre, Katsina; even in Rivers state, there is a state-of-the-art cardiovascular and cancer center; and in Kwara, a philanthropist donated money to the government for a cancer center.”
“Governor Ganduje is also doing the same thing in Kano, but we don’t have enough resources.” There is only one clinical oncologist in Kano State.”
Francis Durosinmi-Etti, a LUTH professor of radiation therapy and oncology, stated that while the country’s radiotherapy machines are insufficient, there is still hope for cancer patients.
“More cancer centers are being established, and the private sector is becoming involved in cancer treatment.” “We’ll get there eventually,” he said.