By Ummul Idris
The Medical Director, Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Abuja, Prof. Saad Ahmed, has called for more investment in awareness and necessary facilities for the treatment and management of cancer patients in the country.
Ahmed made the call at an event, organised by the centre on Thursday in Abuja, to mark the 2021 World Cancer Day with the theme “I am and I will’’.
The medical director, who commended government efforts on cancer care, said that it was doing much to improve on cancer care.
“I know that certain number of equipment have been sent to certain centres for installation and they are currently being installed. All these will help in the management of cancer patients,’’ he said
Ahmed, however, identified inadequate facilities/equipment and specialists in the management of cancer patients as well as misinformation as some of the challenges of cancer management in Nigeria.
He urged intuitions, federal and state governments to invest more in those areas.
“In terms of management of patients, I will call on the government to see how we can improve on the facilities for cancer management in various institutions and capacity building.
“I don’t think we have enough oncologists, oncology nurses and all that, we can invest more in training some of these specialists, it will help,’’ Ahmed said.
He said that there was a need to create more awareness on cancer as there was a lot of misinformation on the disease.
“With that gap, we need to create awareness because some people feel that this is something that is infectious. If you have cancer people will start running away or bring some kind of stigma.
“So all those things, I think we need to create much more awareness so that the populace will be more informed.
“I will call on the government, to invest more in awareness creation, so that even the patients that will come will have less to deal with,’’ Ahmed said.
The medical director added that the centre would continue to work with policymakers for the right policies on cancer management.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the highlight of the occasion was the presentation of a proposal on “Multidisciplinary Cancer Committee’’ to the FMC management.
The proposal was presented by the Head, Surgery Department, Dr Dades Obed, for the Oncology Unit of the hospital.
Ahmed said that the proposed committee would go a long way in bringing diverse experts on opinions to holistically review and manage cancer patients.
“That will help to offer first-class services to the cancer patients, who will be happy about it.
“The committee once put in place with different disciplines, we will be able to write award-winning grants that will bring in billions of dollars to this medical centre,’’ he said.
Ahmed who gave his “principle approval’’ said the hospital management would consider the proposal for necessary input and approval.
He advised members of the public on the need to take appropriate precautions on cancer.
This he said includes but not limited to being conscious of what they eat, prevention of certain diseases that cause cancer, and avoiding getting excessive exposure to other causes of cancer.
The Head, Oncology Unit- FMC Abuja, Dr Tessy Ahmadu, making a presentation on the proposal Multidisciplinary Cancer Committee or Team (MDT), said that globally, cancer care was driven by multidisciplinary cancer team in many healthcare systems.
Ahmadu, who is a radiation and clinical oncologist/ nuclear physician, said that the concept had been widely accepted as the “gold standard’’ of cancer care delivery across the world.
She defined MDT as a group of health care members in different disciplines, each providing specific services to the patient with the aim of ensuring that the patient receives optimum care and support.
“It is a forum for health care providers to discuss diagnostic and treatment aspects of a cancer patient’s care, so as to provide coordinated and convenient care for newly diagnosed patients,’’ she said.
The composition of the committee according to Ahmadu, will be various specialties and fields such as surgeons, oncologists, radiologists, pathologists, specialist cancer nurses, physicians and psychologists.
Others are palliative care specialists, pharmacists, physiotherapists, spiritual advocates, dieticians, speech therapists, social services providers, hospital representatives among others.
She said that with the experts working as a team, it would make them readily available, which had the potential of improving the quality of life and increasing survival of cancer patients.
Ahmed listed objectives of the proposed committee to include providing coordinated, consistent and quality cancer care, enduring reliable and equitable delivery of safe and high quality cancer care and improved outcomes of all cancer patients.
Dr Ezichila Joseph, Head of Clinical Services of the hospital, said that among other diseases ravaging the world, cancer had been on the increase as there were various forms of it affecting different organs of the body.
He said that cancer, which was not also a respecter of anybody or age, was a disease that could not be overlooked and that necessitates the reason the hospital give it the needed attention on the World Cancer Day.