By Justina Auta
An NGO, Okapi Children Cancer Foundation, has appealed to government, stakeholders and hospitals to subsidise the cost of cancer treatment for children suffering from the disease.
The Founder of the group, Kemi Adekanye, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja, in commemoration of the World Cancer Day.
World Cancer Day is celebrated every Feb. 4 to raise awareness on cancer disease, and to encourage its prevention, early detection and treatment.
Cancer is a group of diseases involving abnormal cell growth with the potential to invade or spread to other parts of human body.
Adekanye, who said high cost of treatment and management had forced many parents to abandon treatment and management for their children suffering from cancer, stressed the need for government and health facilities to intervene.
She called on government to prioritise cancer treatment by enacting laws and policies that would support treatment, particularly for children.
She added that “the health insurance scheme in the country currently does not cover most basic cancer costs; it can start by including cancer diagnosis and treatment for children to assist parents.
“There is also the need for government to invest in research and development of cancer treatment, and acquire proper equipment for hospitals, train health workers and compensate caregivers of cancer patients,” she said.
She also advised parents not to abandon their children’s treatment due to the cost of managing the disease, but seek assistance from well meaning Nigerians and government.
“It is not a death sentence, children with cancer can get treated and live full and normal lives, seek help when needed, ask questions from medical experts and above all, be hopeful and faithful.
“We have seen many survivors of childhood cancer because they did not abandon their treatment and medical advice.”
According to her, the foundation creates awareness on cancer particularly childhood cancer, as early detection increases chances of survival.
She added that the organisation was currently running weekly awareness campaign on social media for the whole of 2021 in a bid to create the much needed knowledge on childhood cancer.
According to the WHO Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer, the disease is a leading cause of death for children, with 300,000 new cases diagnosed each year among children aged 0-19 years.
The most common types of childhood cancers include leukemia, brain cancer, lymphomas and solid tumours such as neuroblastoma and Wilms tumour. (NAN)