80% of Nigerian Children Diagnosed With Childhood Cancer Die
Approximately 40, 000 Nigerian children are diagnosed with different types of childhood cancers annually and 80 percent of them die as a result of poor detection and clinical treatment.
This was disclosed by the founder of the Medicaid Cancer Foundation, and First Lady of Kebbi state, Dr. Zainab-Shinkafi Bagudu, in an interview with THISDAY in Abuja, shortly after a roundtable meeting organised by the foundation to mark this year’s childhood cancer month.
She said about 80 percent of the cases in Nigeria and other low-income countries end up in death, unlike the high-income countries where the cure rate of cancer in children is now about 85 percent.
“In Nigeria, the prevalence is under-documented, but about 40,000 children with cancer die every year and we have other undocumented numbers. Globally there are over 400,000 childhood cancer cases.
“Again that is under-documented because of the poor diagnosis that we are talking about and low index of cases from clinicians and parents. Usually, when children have a fever, they tend to treat malaria and other infections.”
According to her, the under-documentation was because of poor diagnosis and a low index of suspicion from clinicians and even parents some of whom are unaware that cancer exists in children. She said some clinicians tend to treat malaria when children have a recurrent fever before thinking of cancer.
She said the best ways to tackle childhood cancer in Nigeria includes awareness creation, and a high index of suspicion by clinicians, adding that the government needs to train more physicians in the field of cancer treatment.
The First Lady said the roundtable was organised to bring key stakeholders such as civil society organisations, survivors, parents of survivors, those doing fundraising for childhood cancers, donor agencies, government officials, the academia, medical associations, and doctors treating patients together to listen to their challenges and also chart a way forward.
She lauded the federal government for including pediatric cancers in national programmes like the cancer health fund, and the chemotherapy access programme.
While describing it as one of the major contributions of the federal government to cancer, she said cancer advocates were successful in advocacy for the inclusion of childhood cancer in the list of beneficiaries of these programmes.
Also, Paediatric Oncologist at the National Hospital Abuja, Dr. Adewunmi Oyesakan, also said between 400, 000 to 500, 000 children are affected by childhood cancer annually globally with the majority of them in developing countries and sub-Saharan Africa.
When asked about the situation at the National Hospital in Abuja, Dr. Oyesakan said that there was a growing number of cancer cases among children resulting from tests that were conducted at the facility.