The Federal Ministry of Health has said that Nigerians, living with cancer would now save up to 50 per cent of treatment cost as it launches a pioneer Chemotherapy Access Treatment (CAP) Programme.
The Minister of State for Health, Sen. Olorunnimbe Mamora, while launching the CAP at the National hospital Abuja on Tuesday said that the programme would increase access to high-quality essential cancer drugs and enable thousands of additional Nigerians to access care.
According to him, the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 60 Per cent of patients who get cancer in Nigeria will die adding that Nigeria records over 70,000 deaths due to cancer yearly.
He said that in spite of the statistics by the WHO, more than half of cancer patients in the country could not access treatment majorly because of the high cost in treatment.
Mamora alleged some cancer drugs were out of stock in public hospitals forcing patients to obtain them from pharmacies where the prices were out of reach.
The minister decried that the abundance of counterfeit medicine in the Nigerian market was worsening rather than improving patients’ conditions.
He however assured that the CAP would enable cancer patients in Nigeria to access lower-priced, high-quality treatment at hospitals and pharmacies and reduce the burden of out-of-pocket payments.
The minister said that CAP was a public-private partnership between the federal ministry of health, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), the American Cancer Society (ACS), Pfizer, World Wide Health Care and EMGE resources.
He said that the medications available under the programme were of the same quality as those that would be received by patients in the united states, Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.
Mamora disclosed that the programme aimed at reducing the price of 16 priority and quality assured medicines by almost 50 per cent in six countries in Africa including Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.
The minister explained that the programme would provide immediate payment to participating pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors to ensure the sustainability of the system and stock replenishment.
“This will enable Nigeria and other African governments to double the number of patients being treated with the same resources and reduce the catastrophic expenditure for patients paying out-of-pocket.
“This is by reducing complexity in the distribution prices, stabilising prices, coordinating orders, streamlining registration of products and promoting the entry of international suppliers”, Mamora said.
He disclosed that the programme was being rolled out in seven university teaching hospitals including Ahmadu Bello University teaching hospital, Aminu Kano teaching hospital, Lagos university teaching hospital, National hospital Abuja.
Others are Obafemi Awolowo university teaching hospital, university college hospital Ibadan and the University of Nigeria teaching hospital, Enugu.
Jafaru Momoh, the Chief Medical Director of the national hospital said that one of the biggest problems to accessing cancer care was the cost of treatment and most cases presented very late which had made cancer to be the leading cause of morbidity and mortality.
Momoh said the national hospital in an effort to reduce the cancer burden has expanded cancer services.
He said the hospital conducts regular screening, has procured two Radiotherapy equipment, increased the number of consultants in oncology and therapy radiographers amongst others.
He, however, said that the hospital had secured space for an oncology pharmacy and oncology clinic.