By Chioma Obinna
Amid the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer patients, Nigerian philanthropists have been urged to extend their support against the Coronavirus towards funding cancer care in Nigeria.
The Federal Government has also been tasked to urgently establish at least one cancer centre in each of the six geopolitical zones of the Federation.
Making the call weekend, a philanthropist, Mrs Janet Oyedele, called on Nigerians to rally around to support cancer care.
Oyedele, who is the Founder of, Timilehin Leukaemia Foundation, TLF, lamented that lots of children and adults were dying from leukaemia (cancer of the blood) and other forms of cancer because there are not enough cancer treatment centres in the country.
Speaking during the 4th Timilehin Annual Valentine Special programme with the theme: “Second Wave of Coronavirus In Nigeria” and Voluntary Blood Donation Drive in Lagos,
Oyedele, who recalled that many cancer patients were not able to access care during the lockdown lamented that some were denied treatment locally while others could not travel abroad for treatment.
At the event organised in partnership with the National Union of Textile, Garment, and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria, NUTGTWN, she said cancer patients are suffering the most because all the doctors and nurses are focusing on COVID-19 patients.
“This is one reason why the treatment is so expensive. The global lockdown, when the pandemic started, prevented them from travelling out for treatment. I lost my child to leukemia; so, I know how difficult and painful it was to get treatment for him when he was battling the disease.
“But, if we had centres in the six geo-political zones, it will be a good start to addressing the issue in the country,” she said.
Oyedele appealed for support for cancer patients, particularly those with leukaemia as many die without blood being available in the blood banks.
“Let rich people that contributed money for COVID-19, also come together, contribute money for cancer especially leukaemia that has affected our generation.”
She said the programme was also a drive for voluntary blood donation, with a target of 150 pints.
“Apart from leukemia patients who need a regular blood transfusion – pregnant women during childbirth, accident victims and others, also need blood at one time or the other.
“Last year, we got 70 pints of blood, but this year we aim to get 150 pints. That is why we have two stands so that more people can support humanity through their donation of blood.”
The President, NUTGTWN, Mr John Adaji, commended the Foundation for consistency in its aims and objectives to help humanity.
He called on Nigerians to strictly adhere to COVID 19 guidelines, especially the non-pharmaceutical interventions which include wearing of face mask. COVID-19 vaccine around the world is a welcome development.
We all know that there is no full guarantee of the efficacy of the vaccines It has been reported that some people have got infected even after taking the doses of the vaccines. The world is even witnessing another form of COVID-19 which is even more deadly. I, therefore, commend the Foundation for raising awareness of the pandemic in Nigeria.
On his part, the spouse of the Founder, Mr Oyetunde Oyedele said the experience of losing a child to Leukaemia was unbearable, adding that the foundation needs more supports to reach out to more children passing through the Leukemia ordeal.
“We can’t do this alone, because I have been there; our aim is to help as many children as possible who need urgent help to survive,” he said.
Speaking, a mother who lost her son to Leukemia in June 2020, Mrs Tosin Babatunde, narrated her pains and agony in tears, urging mothers whose children were suffering from the disease to show more love and affection to them. “My son was diagnosed with Leukemia before he died in June 2020, which was just a year duration. The treatment and cost were really huge, and cancer does not respect age, class, or gender. Parents in this situation should try as much as possible to give their children the love and care they need.”