Over 70,000 Nigerians killed by cancer in 2018

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The Nigerian Medical Association has raised the alarm over the high rate of mortality from cancer in Nigeria, saying that 70,327 died of the disease in 2018 alone.

The association has then called on the Federal Government to include cancer diagnostics and treatment as part of ailments covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)

In a briefing on Monday as part of activities to mark the World Cancer Day, Dr Francis Faduyile, National President of the NMA attributed the deaths to low awareness.

He said that out of the 9 million deaths across the world in 2018, Nigeria contributed over 70,000 to the number while the country recorded 115,950 new cases within the period under review.

“Today is World Cancer day, a day dedicated to raise awareness on cancer globally and galvanize efforts at combating this scourge which is now the second leading cause of death in the world accounting for 9.6 million deaths in 2018.

“The World Health Organisation estimated that there were 18.1 million new cases in 2018 which was a significant increase of about 4 million cases compared to last estimate of 14.1 million new cases in 2012.

“Africa is estimated to have about 5.8% of the new cases but a disproportionately higher 7.3% of cancer death globally.

“Nigeria has an estimated 115,950 new cases of cancer and an estimated 70, 327 cancer deaths in 2018. The cancer death rate in our country is still one of the worst in Africa and this requires urgent attention.

“This is attributable to low awareness and poor attitude to cancer prevention, poor facilities for cancer screening and early detection, inadequate treatment facilities and higher incidence of cancer types,” he said.

Faduyile who was represented by the President of the FCT Chapter of NMA, Dr Ekpe Phillips, however commended the efforts of the Federal Government in implementing the National Cancer Control Plan 2018 – 2022.

The association also hailed the government for renovating cancer treatment facilities in tertiary institutions across the country.

The NMA however called for the scale up of the impelmetation of the cancer control plan as well as renovation and building of cancer facilities across the country.

“There is need to urgently raise awareness on cancer prevention, enforce necessary legislations with implications on cancer prevention such as those on tobacco.

“Cancer screening and early detection services need urgent intervention. This is very important to reduce the proportion of patients that present with advance disease associated with poor outcome.

“We implore the government to ensure timely completion of ongoing projects on cancer treatment to increase access to treatment and ensure a progressive reduction in the incidence of cancer and cancer related deaths in Nigeria.

“Once again, we advocate for the inctusion of cancer control and treatment in services covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme {NHIS} and necessary measures taken to enhance the coverage of the scheme to more Nigerians,” he said.

The NMA therefore empathized with those suffering from the disease, while calling on its members to always put in their best in taking care of such patient.

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