The availability of good and affordable quality healthcare has been one that seems to have eluded the Nigerian people for many years now. It is no longer news that the average Nigerian cannot boast of access to healthcare of international standard. Presently, thousands of Nigerian cancer patients are under a death sentence as it were due to the of lack of access to radiotherapy treatment. In what can be described as an unimaginable development, all the radiotherapy machines in the country are faulty.
Statistically, there are over 100,000 cases of cancer diagnosed yearly in Nigeria. About 80,000 Nigerian cancer patients die yearly from the disease. It is therefore alarming that with these depressing statistics all the machines that are meant to bring relief to the suffering people are currently not working. The machines used for radiotherapy treatment at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), University College Hospital (UCH) as well as others in health institutions in Enugu, Benin, Sokoto, Abuja etc. have been reported to be in and out of repairs due to constant use and lack of maintenance.
Nigerian cancer patients currently affected are in a state of danger because they might not be able to continue their treatment in the nearest future. The real danger, according to experts, is the fact that if a patient starts treatment with radiation and stops having not received the required dosage, the cells will build immunity and then bounce back.
Professor Francis Abayomi Durosinmi Etti, the Chairman National Programme on Cancer Management, confirmed the current deplorable state of radiotherapy machines in the country. While expressing sympathy with Nigerian cancer patients over the current situation, he expressed hope that the situation would improve soon stating that the government is doing a lot to tackle the problem. In the same vein, the Minister of Health confirmed that nine centres across the nation have been earmarked for upgrade. He said that they have contacted two major producers of the machines in a bid to make each centre have two machines.
Hopefully, Nigerian cancer patients will have cause to smile very soon. It is however imperative for the government to revamp the state of healthcare in the world’s most populous black nation. Situations like this are an embarrassment and should be avoided for the sake of Nigeria’s image on the international scene and more importantly, the precious lives of the Nigerian people.