CLWCF Childhood Cancer
The CLWCF is urging the federal government to subsidise cancer treatment for children affected by childhood cancer.

CLWCF: FG Should Subsidise Childhood Cancer Treatment

Following its annual “2023 Walkathon” to mark the end of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, the Children Living With Cancer Foundation (CLWCF) is appealing to the Federal Government to urgently subsidise treatment for Nigerian children affected by childhood cancer which is a leading cause of death for children under 14 in Lagos.

Dr. Nneka Nwobbi, the Founder of the Foundation, said that children with cancer and their parents have continued to suffer due to a lack of resources to fund their treatments in hospitals.

Nwobbi said cancer in adults and children is not captured in the country’s National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA), saying there was a need for the Federal government to subsidise treatment for children whose process of treatment is long-term.

Nwobbi, who spoke during the walk which kicked off from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idiaraba to Ojuelegba roundabout and back to LUTH premises, said: “Health insurance does not work for any cancer in Nigeria not even childhood cancer, because it is expensive to treat. What we are looking at is for the government to subsidise childhood cancer treatment, from investigations, hospital bills, medications, and radiotherapy among others.

“It is difficult to give an amount to treat cancer because there are different types of cancer and treatment also differs due to the different stages too. Treatment depends on the stages but for cancer of the kidney, one will need nothing less than N3 to N5 million for the earliest stage. This is the minimum.

“Again, the parents of these children after staying in the hospital with them lose their jobs, and that should not happen. The government should help not just the children but the parents too. Treatment for cancer should be inclusive of every person, society, teachers, healthcare workers and the parents.”

Lamenting the many challenges facing children living with cancer, she identified lack of awareness as the major challenge confronting the treatment of cancer in Nigeria.

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According to her, poor awareness has continued to fuel the late presentation of patients in the hospitals.

“It is only when parents know that children have cancer, they bring them to the hospital. It is necessary for parents to know that children can have cancer. That is a major challenge. Then, the treatment is also a major issue. It is not easy for both adults and children. Finance is not a one-off thing. It is a long process. Even when the child is declared fit after treatment, the child needs to be maintained for life.

“In Nigeria, the burden of childhood cancer cannot be ascertained but one the things we are doing is to establish a childhood cancer register in Nigeria but we are hampered by funds. This register when created will enable us to know the number of children with cancer in Nigeria and what can be done for them.”

She further explained that every September, a lot of activities are done to create awareness about the challenge of childhood cancer and this year, CLWCF, has done a number of activities including; the release of balloons, lectures, and the ongoing art exhibition by children who have cancer and other children who want to encourage them.

She said the walk is the last activity to end the yearly activities, adding that exercise was important for both adults and children with cancer.

According to statistics, cancer is one of the leading causes of death among children and adolescents worldwide as approximately 280,000 children between the ages of 0-19 are diagnosed with cancer each year.