By Esther Onyegbula
Health experts have called for collective efforts in tackling the rising incidence of childhood cancer in Nigeria, stating that the disease is almost assuming epidemic level.
Speaking in Lagos, the President, Children Living With Cancer Foundation, CLWCF, Dr. Nneka Nwobbi, posited that checking the scourge of childhood cancer required collective efforts because of the huge amount of money involved. Nwobbi, who spoke during a Cancer Awareness Walk to enlighten the public on the need for cancer screening and early detection, advised sufferers not to see the disease as a death sentence.
“Childhood cancer is not a death sentence. It is curable though expensive to manage; but there should be enough money to make cancer treatment free for children in this country. If about 10,000 people contribute N1,000 monthly, with N10 million, it would go a long way to bringing relief to parents because access to drugs is not the problem, but affordability,” she said.
Nwobbi explained that, that can lead to effective treatment and save lives especially in children.
The CLWCF boss lamented that her experience collaborating with individuals, organisations and institutions on cancer indicates that most cancer cases that eventually lead to death are those detected at late stages.
She therefore stated that all should support groups and individuals involved in the fight against cancer in order to successfully tackle the challenges of cancer disease, which, she said, threatens the entire human race.
Consultant pediatrician at LUTH, Dr. Edamisan Olusoji Temiye, underscoring the seriousness of the issue, noted: “Childhood cancer treatment is very expensive. For example, a complete treatment for kidney cancer (nephroblastoma), which lasts for less than six months and is not as costly as cancer of the blood, will cost parents of an affected child nothing less than N1 million. And we will have to monitor the child up to five years before we can say he is okay.
It takes between N7 million and N10 million to cure blood cancer, which lasts two or three years. “So, it’s not feasible for an average Nigerian family to afford the cure for cancer. That is one of the reasons why our cure rate is very, very low because there’s a lot of treatment abandonment. The parents come and when they see the enormous cost, they just go away. And the next time you see them, they tell you the child died at home.”