The wife of the Kebbi State governor and the founder, Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF), Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu has raised the alarm on the cost of radiotherapy for cancer patients in the country.
Shinkafi-Bagudu, who is also the director at the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and a consultant paediatrician, told journalists in Abuja that one cancer patient in the country pays over N1million for radiotherapy and it is still not enough.
She considered the budget for cancer in the country insufficient and called for continuous budgetary allocations for cancer in the country to ensure Nigerians living with the disease get the required treatment.
Above all, Shinkafi-Bagudu stressed, the government must ensure affordable health insurance for all.
The paediatrician said the country’s inability to make her health insurance scheme efficient and expanded, particularly to the informal sector, is affecting the country’s health indices and would continue to keep it far from attaining Universal Health Coverage (UHC). “Most Nigerians are in the informal sector, especially those in the rural areas: farmers, traders and market women.
“Despite the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) [being] in place, it has not ensured [that] all citizens have access to health care services, as many [still] die daily of curable ailments, aside from huge medical costs,” she stressed.
She said the shortfall was particularly glaring when it comes to cancer diagnosis and treatment, just as she went ahead to list some contributory factors for early death and mortality from cancers as late diagnosis, late treatment and completing the treatment.
Shinkafi-Badugu said an improvement in the number of cancer patients being managed or cured depended largely on the commitment of the government.
“If the government is committed and serious in ensuring that there is availability and accessibility of cancer diagnostic tools and management, it will go a long way,” she stated.
The MCF boss stressed the need for medical practitioners to adopt global best practices in the management and control of cancer.
According to her, many Nigerians are on their own when it comes to surviving cancer, thus the need to push the government to take the lead in cancer control through advocacy – as is obtainable globally where government, through policies, plays a critical role in reducing cancer incidence and deaths.