The Federal Government has called on parents to seek early medical attention for children with childhood cancer.
Dr Shuaibu Belgore, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Interior, made the appeal on Saturday in Abuja while speaking with newsmen during a seven kilometre road walk to draw attention against cancer in little children.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the walk was organised by the Okapi Children Cancer Foundation, an NGO, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Interior.
NAN also reports that the event was tagged 2021 Childhood Cancer Awareness Walk, in commemoration of international childhood cancer awareness month.
Belgore said that childhood cancer could have a lot of devastating effect on the family, if early medical attention was not sought to tackle the issue.
According to him, childhood cancer can affect the family in a very serious manner, in addition to the ill health of a child and that with early symptoms, parents should be able to take care of such child.
He noted that childhood cancer could be arrested at early stage, if the parents paid much attention to the child.
Belgore stated that the purpose of the road walk was also to draw continuous support for children with cancer, describing the walk as an interesting fun filled event.
“Everybody enjoyed the walk; this is the beginning of the continuous project, it is going to be an annual event. The walk is suppose to be five kilometres but we walked seven kilometres.
“It is quite interesting, enjoyable along with the children who actually walk for the whole life. It is good as a family bonding event.
“Cancer in children is almost like suddenly, screening for it is not really medically available,” he said.
Mrs Kemi Adekanye, the Founder, Okapi Children Cancer Foundation, noted that the idea of the NGO was born five years ago, after the death of her younger brother, who she said died of cancer.
Adekanye said that the road walk was to create awareness and ginger Nigerians that cancer could also occur in children.
She said that since the beginning of the foundation, the organisation had been doing its best to care for the less privileged by footing their medical bill in the treatment of cancer.
According to her, the foundation can only raised N3 million in 2020 to support children with cancer, and that the target for 2021 is N10 million to also carry out the task of supporting cancer children.
“We are hoping to raise this money, we are not there yet, but we will get there before the end of September, the whole of September is childhood cancer awareness month.
“My advice for parents is to seek doctors’ opinion if you notice anything on your child, and if you know that your child has been diagnosed of cancer, please go through the routine medical check-up.
“Do not go through the traditional route, I am not saying the traditional route is not good, but if you must go through the traditional, support it with medical as well,” Adekanye stressed.
Dr Ozy Okonokhua, the Director of the Project for the foundation, called on the government to give helping hand in childhood cancer treatment.
“The basic area is in the fact that most of the parents who take care of those children spend money out of their pocket and this is becoming very difficult for them to provide the needed care.
“I will suggest that government include paediatric cancer care into the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and cover the cost of treatment for these children.
“I will also be advocating that government should remove tariff on drug use for the treatment of paediatric cancer in Nigeria. If we can do that, we will go a long way in making access to healthcare available,” he said.
Okonokhua hinted that the foundation was planning to take its awareness campaign against childhood cancer to the rural communities, but it would finish with the urban centre first.
He added that most of the people in the urban centres were not even aware of childhood cancer, saying that awareness in both places are crucial to the foundation.