TDCF, Experts List Ways To Tackle Cancer In Children

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…Foundation launches handbook series

Cancer is one sickness in the world today that many people fear like death owing to its devastating impact on its victim. To many, it is even a death sentence not because it has no cure, but as a result of the huge financial resources involved in its management coupled with lack of functional treatment facilities.

Currently, Nigeria has no comprehensive cancer treatment centre in place while the few available radiation machines are not working. Yet, the country is witnessing an alarming increase in new cancer cases on daily basis according to experts. More disturbing is that thousands of children are now coming down with the disease annually.

According to reports, the cost of treating cancer both in adults and children, is extremely expensive and beyond the reach of the poor, hence, the survival rate is poor owing to lack of proper treatment in developing countries like Nigeria.

Considering the current economic hardship in the country, where many parents are still struggling to feed their children, experts say, it would be practically impossible, for poor parents whose child is diagnosed of cancer to foot the bills. Even the rich, some experts say can still not afford cancer treatment without necessary support from the government.

The attack of cancer on any member of a family in Nigeria, usually comes with so much pain and grief, owing to the huge amount of money required for both diagnosis and treatment. The World Cancer Report 2014, shows that the disease is now the world’s biggest killer.

Hence, stakeholders are fashioning out more proactive ways of addressing the burden of cost of cancer treatment in Nigeria, especially childhood cancer which they say can be treated or even cured when detected early.

It is against the backdrop that The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF), a non governmental organisation for children living with cancer, is calling on the government and the private sector players to invest in cancer care. This, the foundation said would help in saving the lives of children battling with the ailment in the country, by making treatment accessible and affordable to them, thereby reducing the huge financial burden on the parents who are still struggling to pay out of pocket.

Beside providing financial support for children living with cancer, TDCF, also believes that increased information about childhood cancer and availability of equipment for diagnosis and treatment would boost early detection and survival rate.

Speaking at the launch of the foundation’s Childhood Cancer Handbook Series in Lagos recently, Founder and Executive Director of TDCF, Dr. Adedayo Joseph, said with adequate support and care, no child would die of cancer in Nigeria. Joseph who is a Clinical Radiation Oncologist, said troubled at the way children were dying of cancer in Nigeria and the huge financial challenges faced by their parents, she decided to devote her life for the fight against cancer in children and by providing financial assistance to those currently battling with the disease through her foundation.

Calling on well-to-do Nigerians to support children living with cancer, Joseph noted that children have higher chances of survival than adults when detected early. She explained: “The truth is that many childhood cancers have an excellent prognosis when detected and diagnosed early; promptly and properly treated.

The good thing about childhood cancer is that it has higher survival rate abroad that is close to 90 percent and that is what the TDCF wants to achieve in Nigeria because our survival rate is very low.” Listing other ways to tackle childhood cancer, Joseph urged parents especially mothers to always take their children to the hospital whenever they are ill for proper medical check.

According to her, the Childhood Cancer Handbook Series was written to dispel the stigma associated with the disease and provide parents and physicians with good understanding about facts and myths surrounding cancer. She noted that the foundation, which was established two years ago in memory of late Dorcas Adepitan, a 13-year-old girl, who died of bone cancer in 2015, had so far, sponsored the treatment of four children with many still awaiting sponsorship.

A board member of the foundation, Dr. Peju Daodu, in her welcome address, said though Nigeria is ranked as a developing country, no child should be allowed to die of cancer in the country, going by her huge natural resources. She called on the government to address the challenges in accessing cancer treatment in the country and to also invest in research. “We have to do everything possible to change the face of cancer in Nigeria”, she added.

For President, Cancer Education and Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CEAFON), Prof. Abayomi Durosinmi- Etti, a renowned cancer expert, “Cancer is terrible and destructive. Let’s do something about it.” He decried the lack of cancer treatment facilities in the country, stressing that doctors would only work with equipment and not their teeth, while appealing for early diagnosis and proper treatment of the disease in order to reduce the mortality associated with it.

Another renowned oncologist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Remi Ajekigbe also said, “the poor cannot survive cancer and even the rich do not always survive.” The reason, according to him, is because treatment is either unavailable or, where available, it is extremely expensive.

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