By Franklin Ocheneyi
“NOW, for supports, so far, the supports we have based on the funds that were raised from donors to set up the centres and run this project so far, is about two billion naira.”
Dr. Abia Nzelu, Executive Secretary, mass medical mission (mmm) a Lagos-based non-governmental organisation, disclosed this, yesterday, during the unveiling of fleet of special buses / Mobile Cancer Centres, at News Agency of Nigeria Media Center, Lagos.
“So, in line with the spirit of Good Tuesday, we must recognize the generous philanthropists and philanthrocrats who have contributed towards these projects. These include: The government of Lagos State, Mr. Jim Ovia, our highest donor; Chief Modupe and Mrs Folorunso Alakija; Mr. Patrick Tonye-Cole; Mrs. Winifred Akpani; Chief Kessington Adebutu; Dr. Tunde Folawiyo, Mr.Aigboje Aig-Imuokhuede, among others,” she said.
She called on pharmaceutical companies in the country for support with their drugs, saying “we have a lot of ways people can support the projects. You don’t have to give millions and you don’t have to be rich, and don’t assume it is only those that are millionaires that should give, no, you can give in your own way. People can give their services whether medical or non-medical because these projects require all sorts of skills. Here, we have studio because we need to do jingles which we are going to use for the Health Education, so, we need all that supports. So, it is through the funds that we have made so far that we have been able to sustain this project.”
Health on the Go: She explained that while the Mobile Cancer Centres known as PinkCruise, is equipped with state-of-the art facilities for screening and treatment of cancer, the fleet of buses are for the Health Education on the Go. “We will be going out with the buses every day to make public service announcement on cancer; from place to place; the bus will be playing jingles and giving out fliers while sensitising people on the need for them to come for free screening and treatment at the centres. So, the aim of the Health Education on the Go is to ensure that we are able to let people know about all these things that we have here. They are totally free, nobody pays kobo for it. People needs to be aware of this so that they can take advantage of these and as I said, apart from cancer, we also do the eyes, and dental care and then we have Foundation for Imaging in Life and Medicine (FILM) where we help people who goes to hospitals to do MRI but can’t afford it ; it cost about N70 thousand . People need to know about these services and to be able to take advantages of them, which is why we are starting the Health on the Go campaign.”
“We want to make cancer prevention accessible to every Nigerians through the PinkCruise Programme which takes cancer prevention programs to communities using Cancer Mobile Centres, known as Pinkcruise.
“Lagos is where we have the main pilot of the projects; there is currently four of our Fixed Based Cancer Centers (BCC) in Abuja for North, Asaba for Mid-west and Port Harcourt for East.
“We have a roster that we have been using to cover Lagos; we are going round different parts of Lagos, carrying out outreaches in different parts of Lagos in Local government areas, churches, mosques and different places.
Aims for Comprehensive Cancer Center
“Right now, the next stage is to sustainably carry out this projects and to have a Comprehensive Cancer treatment Centre. A comprehensive cancer centre is one in which you have state–of -the art facility that all the departments are focused on cancer cares. You have everything you need to take care of cancer but we have not gotten to that stage. We hope to go round 27 states in Nigeria and to have a comprehensive cancer centre.
“Right now, the focus is on early cancer to ensure that people don’t end up with advanced cancer which are difficult to treat and when we have people that have advanced cancer to treat, we need comprehensive cancer centre to treat them., so that people won’t have to be travelling abroad and those who can’t afford to travel abroad will still be able to get the same quality of cares that you can find outside Nigeria.”
Dr. Kin Egwuchim, Programme Coordinator, noted that in Africa, countries that can boast of Comprehensive Cancer Centres don’t have the resources of Nigeria at al.
“Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya have; we have actually been there to see the facilities and asked them how they were able to do it? South Africa has several Comprehensive Cancer Centeres including Mozambique and Ghana is about finishing their own but Nigeria has not started doing one. All these African countries don’t have the resources that Nigeria has. So there is no reasons we should not have our own Comprehensive Cancer Center.
According to the former minister of finance, Dr. Okonjo Iweala, Nigerians spend over $200 million on treatment of cancer abroad and a comprehensive cancer centre costs about $63 million to set up. So, the money Nigerians spends on cancer treatment abroad is enough to build three comprehensive cancer centres every year. Instead of people to come together and raise this money, they prefer to spend it individually on treatment abroad. Comprehensive Cancer Centre is a health institution where all the departments are focused on cancer- just imagine the whole of LUTH, they don’t treat any other thing except cancer. That is what is called a comprehensive cancer centre. That is where oncologists and radio physicists are trained,” he said.
Roster for 2019
“We are preparing the roster for 2019. So, if you want the PinkCruise Cancer Mobile Centres to come to your community, media houses, church, mosque, association, gather 1000 people; the facility can handle a thousand people per day, and then, tell us to come so that the project won’t be in vain. If you don’t have up to 1000, mobilize them