By Sola Ogundipe
GROUPS advocating patient-support for people living with cancer have urged the Federal government to provide access to treatment, care and support services for Nigerians living with cancer.
At a press conference to commemorate the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) stakeholders lamented the dire situation of cancer patients as they continually lose their lives as a result of numrous gaps in the system.
The event was held in partnership between the Care. Organization. Public. Enlightenment (C.O.P.E) and the Bricon Foundation, sponsored by Hurlag Technologies Ltd and supported by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals.
In the views of the CEO, C.O.P.E, Ebunola Anozie, cancer patients are losing their lives unneccesarily no thanks to late presentation occasioned by stigma and discrimination and other problems.
Anozie said even when cancer patients present early, they are either unable to receive immediate treatment due to long queues or are delayed for one unpalatable reason or another giving the cancer cells opportunity to spread.
“We are desperately pleading with and imploring the government to realise that our health sector is in a comatose state, it needs urgent attention. We also ask the private organizations and well meaning Nigerians to donate time and resources to helping NGOs like ours in making a difference.
“If every Nigerian does their own bit, we can definitely become the change we want to see and truly be able to say, in the theme for World Cancer Day 2017 -We Can, I Can!”
Ngozi Ushedo, Media & Public Relations Manager, Pfizer, remarked: “We will continue to work together and speak with one voice to help raise awareness on early detection, reducing cancer risks and improving the quality of life for cancer survivors and patients”.
Della Ogunleye, a breast cancer survivor, and the CEO, DDS African Cancer Support Group based in the UK, noted that care and support are essential towards ensuring cancer survival.
“When you are diagnosed with cancer, you need support. Somebody has to hear your voice. We should stop wallowing in self-pity. If we don’t tell the government what to do, it’s a waste of time. We should target the right audience.”
Also speaking, Co-Founder, The Bricon Foundation, Abigail Simon-Hart, described cancer as an every day occurrence that should be talked about every day.
“The important thing is education and access to treatment, care and correct medication. The Nigerian health system should be improved because even with early detection, if there are no facilities, people will continue to die.”
Dr Niyi Adekeye, also Co-Founder of The Bricon Foundation, said without care and support patients are worse off.