Medicaid Cancer Foundation (MCF) in collaboration with Johnson & Johnson has called on the federal government to create a national screening programme and subsidise treatment for prostate cancer.
The group made the call at its innovative Prostrate Cancer Awareness and Fundraising event themed “Art for Cancer”.
The managing director (MD), Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, said that screening programmes and systems will lead to better outcomes and early detection.
“In high-income countries there are screening systems and therefore prostate cancer cases are detected earlier and so there are much more better outcomes.
“Seventy per cent of all the deaths that occur from cancer happen in low-income countries like Nigeria and we are set to see that triple by the year 2030, so creating awareness and letting people know will help,” Bagudu added.
While charging individuals to imbibe a healthy and regular screening lifestyle, she also called for better inclusion of cancer care in both national and state health insurance schemes, particularly, screening programmes.
Bagudu also urged the federal government to use the tax derived from the Sin-tax system to fund the health sector, particularly non-communicable diseases and cancer.
The lead, patient access to cancer care programme, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Hadiza Arome, in her speech said, “The number of men dying each year underscores the fact that prostate cancer is as big as breast cancer. Quoting GLOBOCAN 2020, Arome noted that 8,517 men died of prostate cancer in one year.
“Most of these men died because the prostate cancer was not detected early enough”, she said.
Citing the cost of treatment as a challenge faced by individuals, especially prostate cancer patients, Arome said,”
chemotherapy is ridiculously high. Average cost of a cycle chemotherapy for prostate cancer gun range as high as N300,000, you can imagine a patient going for 18 cycles. So what will the common man that has been diagnosed with prostate cancer do?
“So, we need the government to step in, in terms of creating a national screening programme that will ensure people are screened early. If you have a national screening programme, then it is available for people to go and get screened.
“The government can also subsidise prostate cancer treatment, this can also be done by reducing tax on pharmaceutical companies,” Arome said.
She also noted that the foundation has over the last 13 years, reached over two million Nigerians with free and subsidised cancer care services.
On her part, medical science liaison for Johnson & Johnson, Ukelu Idahosa, said, “We came to meet a big vacuum. Contrary to what we saw with breast cancer, where we had a lot of awareness, it was the reverse for prostate cancer. It looked like there was nothing happening, yet men were dying daily”.
“Prostate cancer is a curable and treatable cancer, but the sad reality is that many men who walk into our hospitals with prostate cancer, come with advanced stages of the disease. We can all join hands together to do something,” Ukelu added.