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Group advocates health insurance for childhood cancer

The federal government has been urged to include childhood cancer diseases under the cancer health funds to provide support for parents and children suffering for cancer related illness.

President, Nigerian Cancer Society, Dr. Adamu Alhassan made the call in Abuja at a sensitisation walk organized by a non-governmental organization, Okapi Children Cancer Foundation to raise awareness for children fighting cancer.

“Most cancers are not detected early and at the advance stages we have high mortality rate among children. Awareness is what brings about early detection. Unlike other forms cancers we don’t have early screening services for children’s cancers and that is the reason why there is need for early detection” he said.

According to Dr Adamu, cancer treatment in children was highly neglected and underestimated in Nigeria despite the high rate of death which could be prevented if detected early.

A paediatric consultant at the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital, Gwagwalada, Dr. Uduak Effiong explained various types of cancers in children and why early presentation in hospital and detection was fundamental for treatment.  

“The most common used to Burkitt lymphoma, it was the most common in the malaria zone because it is associated with the presence of malaria. But now in my own center it is kidney cancer and in other centers they have cancer of the eyes which is becoming more rampant. Leukaemia is also a common type of cancer in Nigeria” Dr Uduak explained. 

The Chief Volunteer, Okapi Children Cancer Foundation, Kemi Adekonye who said cancer treatment was expensive advocated the need to incorporate its treatment for children into the National Health Insurance Scheme to support parents and caregiver.

The event with the theme: “Make Childhood Cancer a National Priority” featured aerobics and a 5 kilometre walk along Jabi-Utako axis of the FCT to raise awareness on the need for Nigerians to recognize and show support to children living with cancer related diseases.

Reporting by Azizatu Sani; Editing by Muzha Kucha & Annabel Nwachukwu