…Calls For Inclusion Of Cancer Treatment In NHIS
The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello on Thursday bemoaned shortage of Urologists in Nigeria.
While appealing for includsion of cancer treatment and other urological ailments into the National Health Insurance Health Scheme (NHIS) coverage.
He made this appeal while speaking at the 26th AGM and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Association of Urological Surgeons (NAUS) in Abuja.
He said that Urology was an important and highly specialized branch of medicine with an increasing demand for its specialized care especially with an increasing aging population.
He ,however, regretted that there was gross shortage of urologists in Nigeria, adding that the cost for treatment of cancer-related and urological illnesses was “astronomical” thus leading to global cause of loss of lives as the poor could not afford it.
He tasked the medical association to train more urologists and work towards cutting down the cost of treatmenting urological ailments, as well as educate the public on early stages of urological ailments and treatment options.
According to him; “Sadly, there is a xonfimed shortage of urologists in Nigeria which increases ,education tourism outside of Nigeria and also outside a lot of strain and pressure on the specialists and facilities available.
“The need to train specialists in this field is therefore imperative and I was elated to learn that one of the objectives of your Organization’s is the teaching and tearing of your members and also promotion of research in your field.
“It will also be heartwarming if your association can seek for ways to reduce the cost of treatment which can be astronomical. A lot of lives have been lost to ailments such as enlarged prostrates largely because the cost of treatment was clearly behind their reach”.
Bello also disclosed that the FCT Administration was working with a private financial institution to construct a 500-bed Center of Medical Excellence in Abuja, within an all-inclusive medical city that would provide world class accommodation and hospital and attract best medical professionals.
He expressed belief that this project would help “stem the tide of brain-drain, medical tourism and save the country the stress of capital flight”, as well as “keep the best brains at home”.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire in his remarks blamed medical tourism on “perceived lack of trust or care by citizens” and revealed that FG’s N100 billion loan to the sector was significantly and positively impacting the health sector.
Ehanire, called for more sensitisation and awareness on skills available in the Nigerian health sector, stressing that perceived lack of trust is responsible for the rise in medical tourism recorded in recent times.
According to him, medical tourism is estimated to cost the country foreign exchange out flow of about $1.2billion annually.
He also called for more engagement of diaspora intervention, particularly in undeserved areas of the country in bridging dearth in medical professionals in the country.
The Minister of Health however assured that the Federal Government support will support professional groups like the NAUS to foster health network, retention and increase while providing improved health care services to Nigerians.
Also, President of the association, Colonel Evaristus Uzoma Azodo (rtd), disclosed that cancer treatment and management was expensive hence the need for large pool of fund like the NHIS.
“Cancer care is a big challenge in our environment and the greatest problem is that most of the patients turn up late when it is late to give them curative treatment.
“About 80 percent of cancer patients come late and what that means therefore is that they are going to be on long-term treatment with very expensive drugs, even the rich are worn out by such care.
“Having a large pool of fund like the NHIS especially if we can expand that system by having more people coming into it, then we will have more money. Cancer care is not cheap in and that is why there is the need for government intervention.”
While stating some of the advantages of Endo-Urology, Dr. Azodo said with advancement in urology treatment, patients can now undergo surgeries without having to be cut open by passing instruments with light fibres are passed into the natural orphisis of the body and this allows for less trauma to the patients, reduce hospital pain, and less hospital stay for the patient.
Nigeria is said to have only a about 271 Urologists to cater for its over 200million population, leaving a ratio of one Urologists to 800,000 people.