By Zainab Iwayemi
The wives of Nigerian governors have canvassed for the inclusion of cancer treatment cover under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) as a strategy to limit the economic burden of the disease on patients and their families.
The first ladies of Nigerian states made this call during a virtual conference organised by an international healthcare and pharmaceutical brand, Roche in collaboration with First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC).
Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, wife of the governor of Kebbi State noted that even though subsidized, the cost of healthcare in Nigeria would not suffice to manage the treatment of cancer. As a result, a reserve source of funds is needed to manage the cost incurred in the course of treatment.
Bemoaning the poor attitude of Nigerians towards insurance, she said that the Nigerian society is averse to the health insurance scheme and as such, they are losing out on the opportunity to key into the system that can help reduce the cost of healthcare.
“The average cost of managing the disease is N600,000 per treatment of six cycles. You need to have a pool of resources that the hospital can use to start off the treatment.
“We have to incorporate cancer care into the health insurance scheme as a way to encompass the cost of managing the disease,” she said. Amina Abubakar Bello, the wife of the governor of Niger State, on her part, outlined the importance of early detection of cervical cancer as well as financial assessment, which are part of the FLAC objective.
According to her, the partnership with Roche aims to serve this purpose and dates back to 2016. Roche has specifically paved the way to provide breast cancer treatment to women in some states across Nigeria as we work together in the joint creation of awareness amongst women about the importance of vaccination, screening and treatment.
She said, “We call on government and other stakeholders alike to join us in meeting the objective of 90 percent of girls to be vaccinated against HPV by 2030, 70 percent of women screened for HPV by the age of 35 and then again at 45 years of age, and lastly, that 90 percent of women diagnosed with cervical cancer are able to access treatment,”
Also speaking at the event, Ladi Hameed, the country manager for Roche in Nigeria, explained that the cost of the ailment is dependent on the stage of the disease whilst also noting that the event aims to walk clients through their journey, create awareness about the National Cancer Control Plan which needs support, demystify the disease, educate the public on modern cancer care as well as point members of the public to right procedures and inform the public to access treatment.
“If a patient is able to detect early, the treatment would be much cheaper, which would be around hundreds of thousands unlike when it has gotten to more complicated stages. We hope to walk with the patient through his/her journey and make treatment of cancer easy and possible. We want patients to know where to go when they are being diagnosed to get specific treatments because cancer is not a one size fits all ailment. Several kinds of cancer require different methods of treatment.
“Through educational activities, we hope to bring healthcare providers up to speed with modern knowledge in cancer care, optimizing the healthcare system, and providing the right diagnosis so that patients do not have to go out of the country for these services. At the end of the day, we can turn what is known as a terminal disease to a chronic disease”, he said.