Immune system research cancer treatment centres diphtheria illness
FG should establish more research centres for cancer.

Health Insurance for Cancer Patients will Help Cushion Expensive Treatments – Oncologists

Clinical and radiation Oncologists across the country have canvassed for the enforcement of health insurance policies for cancer patients, saying it is the only way to offset expensive cancer treatment bills.

The specialists, who spoke exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise in different interviews, said health insurance is the only reason why free medical treatment is offered in some countries and nothing else.

A Clinical Oncologist at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, Lagos, Dr Habeebu Mohammed, said, “Health insurance for cancer patients is very important because it is the only way to foot the bills of cancer patients by collecting little from them and getting the balance from other sources.

“We need to do this just like our car insurance. Personally, if I were to choose between a car and health insurance, I would go for health insurance. I think this should be driven. Anywhere in the world where you have something like free treatment, it is because of insurance and nothing else.

“So, I don’t see the reason why we won’t be able to do this by closing the gap and having access to cancer care in the country. Cancer treatment is one of the most expensive when it comes to medical treatment and we know that socio-economic power in the country is falling day-by-day as a result of the free fall of naira.

“Of course, we know that we have more peasants than the higher class in this part of the world. So, to access treatment, we need insurance. We need to take a little money from everyone and use it to serve those who really need it. I don’t see why we are not enforcing health insurance.

“We need something that will be general and not for the elite. Those who show up for cancer treatment, are the ones that can afford it whereas those that actually need them do not have the means of accessing cancer treatment and that is why we are advocating health insurance.”

Mohammed, who is also the Chief Coordinator, NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, also implored the government to invest in and equip cancer centres in the country by having a maintenance agreement with manufacturers of the machines used in the centres.

According to them, it is the only way they can continue to function without experiencing systems breakdown.

He said, “NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre is the most equipped cancer care centre so far in Sub-Saharan Africa apart from South Africa. So, in West Africa, we have the most equipped centres with four machines that can do artificial intelligence treatment and we also have facilities for the indigents in that centre.

“So far, that is the only cancer centre I know that sponsors cancer treatment for indigents and we have been seeing patients all across the globe. We have Nigerians coming from abroad to access these treatments and we have collaborative programmes with some well-known centres in the West that have standard treatment in the world.

“Like I said, we are the best in the Sub-Saharan, apart from South Africa. South Africa has undergone some development for a long time and we are trying to catch up. Unfortunately, our economy is not helping matters.

“However, in my location, we have four major treatment machines and we have other ones that assist it. But a centre in South Africa, where I did some training in 2014, has eight machines and in a trekking distance, there are two other centres that have two machines each in Jonesburg as far back as 2014.

“But for us, as of 2019, my centre, which has the highest number of machines in Nigeria, has only four. However, I would say that what we have now are newer machines than what I saw in 2014 in South Africa. We have four in my centres, but in Nigeria currently, we don’t have up to 20 machines, whereas in Jonesburg alone, there are more than 20 machines.

“Also, the number of functional machines in the whole of Nigeria is not more than 10. So, we don’t have enough machines at all and this situation is worsened by japa syndrome. We find it difficult to see people train as oncologists today and the same happens across the medical field.

“We noticed that before these young people finish training, they would have done an exam for abroad recruitment. So, it is a very big problem for us. We need to emphasise this because medical doctors are not easy to get and even when you get new ones, the experience is not there.”

Speaking also, a Consultant Radiation Oncologist at the LUTH, Dr Adedayo Joseph, said Nigeria is gradually closing up the gap in cancer treatment and prevention in the country, saying that there is a need for improvement.

“We have increased our diagnostic and prevention strength but we still need to invest in modern technologies in cancer prevention and treatment. We need to scale up our health insurance for cancer treatment. Cancer treatment is expensive and that is why we need insurance to help the poor masses.

“The government is making a lot of effort, especially with the Cancer Development Plan, as well as funds, but I think everybody is in a position of power to do something in their very little corner to end cancer by starting with lifestyle modification.

“We need to improve and enforce cancer treatment insurance. This will give Nigerians an equal right of treatment and survival.”

SOURCE: HealthWise