Succour has come for cancer patients in Nigeria, courtesy of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited (SNEPCo).
Both companies, as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) teamed up with other companies in oil and gas sector to procure and install the state-of-the-art Linear Accelerator Radiotherapy Machine, at the cancer centre in National Hospital, Abuja.
The cancer machine which was commissioned by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, in Abuja, recently. The event witnessed impressive turn out of oil magnets, medical professionals, businessmen, diplomats, government officials and other relevant stakeholders in health care service delivery.
The guests defiled early morning downpour to attend the event, a decision that was commended and deeply appreciated by the Vice President and his team from the Federal Ministry of Health.
While some came with their friends and family members to witness the event, others arrived in company of their business friends and associates to possibly explore areas of business and investment in health and other sectors of Nigerian economy.
The event provided opportunity for reunion for old friends in medical profession. It also afforded them the time for frantic discussion on state of health care services in Nigeria, and most worrisome, the rising menace of cancer in Nigeria, which is fast consuming more lives than expected.
But shortly before the welcome remarks by the invited guests, those outside the medical profession were exposed to scary figure of deaths being recorded annually due to cancer, and the fear that the figure might rise due to inadequate medical facilities to tackle the menace.
SNEPCo Managing Director, Bayo Ojulari, in his opening remarks, said the intervention became necessary following the unimpressive data from the global health sector on Nigeria’s unimpressive performance in areas of prediction, diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients.
He said: “We cannot but feel the urgent need for individuals and corporations to step in and support the government in that regard so that cancer don’t consume us all.”
He made reference to the Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan 2018 to 2022 document, which indicated that cancer was responsible for about 72, 000 deaths in Nigeria annually, with an estimated 102, 000 new cases annually.
The Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Jaf Momoh, said the situation could be worst than what was being reported. He was optimistic that the newly installed state-of-the-art cancer machine will help change the indices in no distant time.
He confirmed that the machine has been tested and it has proven its capacity to reduce treatment and response time to cancer cases.
He added: “With our previous cancer machine that has lesser capacity, we were able to attend to 850 patients in 20 months, and that includes 30 rounds of treatment for each patient. It also take minimum 15 minutes for each round of treatment. But this new machine has more capacity and reduced time of response.
“The accuracy of the new machine is impressive. It gives opportunity for treatment planning, treatment and simulation. In addition to that, it has reduced the cost of treatment drastically from hitherto $10,000 or above to $2,000.
Meanwhile, the Group General Manager, Public Affairs, NNPC, Ndu Ughamadu, who represented the Group Managing Director (GMD) of NNPC, Mele Kolo Kyari, announced that International Oil Companies (IOCs) have been directed to channel their CSR programmes on health, education, manpower development and other areas that would have great impact on lives of Nigerians.
He disclosed that the idea for the project originated from the table of SNEPCo, while NNPC made financial provision for the procurement and installation of the state-of-the-art-cancer machine.
However, the event however culminated in the commissioning of the machine by the Vice President. Before commissioning the project, he advocated a change in lifestyle to keep check of rising cases of cancer in Nigeria.
He suggested that the change in lifestyle should be holistic with stronger focus in healthy diet, regular body exercise and clean environment.
The Vice President who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abdulaziz Mashi, reiterated the commitment of government to any cause that would reduce the high number of deaths being recorded annually due to cancer and other deadly ailments.
He appreciated the donors and encouraged wealthy individuals and corporate organizations to commit to similar steps that would improve the health, education and total well-being of Nigerians.