The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, said on Friday that 10,000 Nigerians die of cancer annually due to the lack of necessary equipment and resources to attend to the patients.
Speaking in Abuja at the inauguration of the National Hospital's Radiotherapy Centre with new Multilleave Linear Accelerator, known as LINAC, for cancer treatment, Adewole described cancer as a disease that had killed more people than the combination of Tuberculosis, infectious diseases and HIV, while decrying the lack of resources to cushion the effect of cancer.
He explained that based on the review of International Atomic Energy Agencies of countries conducted in 2013, only South Africa and Egypt have the capability of treating cancer, a situation he described as worrisome.
News Agency of Nigeria reported that the minister also commended the wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, for her passion in addressing the plight of cancer patients, saying such passion had made it possible for the centre to be operational.
He said the Linear Accelerator machine in the facility would be increased to two so as to prevent a situation where patients would be stranded, should the machine break down. He added that the Federal Government would upgrade other seven cancer centres next year in order to minimise the burden of cancer and associated death rates in the country.
He said, "What is important is that the machine has been put to work and upgraded and it is an opportunity for linking those networks, treatment modalities that are new. Anybody coming to this centre will get the right treatment. With the right complaint, we will minimise our treatment damages to neighbouring organs so that we can be more precise with respect to treatment that we offer.
"We are making moves to have two new machines that can treat people and we also pledge to complete this centre to become the first of its kind in Nigeria."
Earlier, the Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital, Dr. Jafaru Momoh, said the radiotherapy unit, inaugurated in 2000 was operational till it finally broke down in February due to pressure.
He said one LINAC was procured in 2013 but was not installed until recently due to the paucity of funds to procure the necessary CT simulators and accessories for its installation and inauguration.
He said, "The new LINAC is the first of its kind in Nigeria, the members of staff of relevant departments have been trained on its use. Additional support will be needed to complete the entire complex and provide the necessary equipment and relevant manpower to run it as a centre of excellence for cancer care."
Meanwhile, the wife of the Vice-President, while inaugurating the facility, lauded the efforts of the hospital's management for making the facility a reality.
She described the death of 10,000 people to cancer as unimaginable and assured the hospital of the Federal Government's support in making everything available to ensure quality service delivery in the facility.
"By the reason of this building, I see patients that are helped, loved ones of patients that are happy and that we have a facility that they can use to help their loved ones out of sickness," she added.