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Foundation seeks N12b to establish cancer centres, save patients

By Sikiru Ayoola
07 July 2022   |   3:43 am
As part of efforts to establish more cancer treatment centres in Nigeria so that more people can have opportunity of getting treated and cured from cancer, St. Cyril Cancer Treatment Foundation (SCCTF) centre...

As part of efforts to establish more cancer treatment centres in Nigeria so that more people can have opportunity of getting treated and cured from cancer, St. Cyril Cancer Treatment Foundation (SCCTF) centre has announced an initiative of having one million people gift N1,000 monthly for a period of 12 months, which would be used in building a comprehensive cancer treatment centre and a brachytherapy unit in Nigeria.

Brachytherapy is a type of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. It places radioactive sources inside the patient to kill cancer cells and shrink tumours.

The Foundation made the announcement at a press conference titled “OMIFAC (One Million Individuals Fight Against Cancer)”, which held on June 30, 2022 at Owokoniran Street off Akobi crescent, Surulere, Lagos.

The OMIFAC project is to be inaugurated on Tuesday, July 12.

Radiation Therapist, Founder and Executive Director of St. Cyril Cancer Foundation, Mrs. Mojisola Animashaun, said: “The foundation has been setting up centres for treatments and small clinics. It also wants to start its first ever comprehensive cancer center which will include chemotherapy which is already ongoing now, radiotherapy center, surgery and some diagnostic work for the patients.”

Mojisola explained that the concept OMIFAC was birthed because in Nigeria “we have a huge population and most people are poor and cannot afford to treat cancer. So, having a lot of people donate N1,000 monthly for 12 months will go a long way in building the first comprehensive cancer centres.”

Mojisola, who is also the founder, described the centres as self-sustaining with normal charges for the patients as they will be charged in other places that they go to have their treatments. “The pricing is competitive because they maintain international standard of treatments and ensure their patients can get treated,” she said. Mojisola also pointed out that those who are financially capable can have their treatments but they also ensure that those who can’t afford it get help from their counseling unit, which help in raising funds through another initiative called “St Cyril Patients Support.”

And together with the funds raised by the patients family, friends and relatives, this ensures that everyone gets treated and have a fighting chance to be able to cure their cancer and alleviates their symptoms.

Describing the burden of cancer in Nigeria Mojisola said, “Cancer in Nigeria is heavy because it continues to increase in number but the number of facilities are not growing fast, our population is growing by millions yearly”.

According to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), “we should have at least one radiotherapy centre for one million population. Therefore, considering the current population in Nigeria, we should have about 200…”

We don’t even have up to 10 centres, one can only imagine the number of people who are left untreated and even people who can afford to pay for their treatments have to travel out of the country.

“It is a huge burden that cannot be carried by the government alone, most of the time the government supports but a lot of the times it is done by collaboration of communities, stakeholders, corporate bodies, and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs),” she added.

She further emphasised that it is not only poor people that can have cancer, rather it is a general disease irrespective of one’s socio-economic status and race but it is rather a global issue. “It is mostly caused by smoking, fatty diets, obesity and a whole lot of other things,” she mentioned.

Mojisola also enlightened the public that early diagnosis can help reduce the cost of cancer treatment. “Therefore, they keep creating awareness on their social media platforms so people can reach out to them for treatments,” she said.

The organisation had its first centre opened in Isolo, Lagos and the second in Surulere around 2019. The second is an upgrade of the facilities in Isolo, so as to make cancer treatment holistic as possible.

Stressing on the essence of OMIFAC at the parley, she further stated: “When the centre is built and functional there will be an awakening in our community, when I say community I mean Nigeria. After a while we start doing other things in other part of Africa. I want this to work and the reason I want it to work is because we need it as a country.

“We need to be able to say I am a part of something that is laudable. I can see it grow, I am a part of it not because I am going to have financial gains but that it is going to help Nigerians, it is going to help Africans.

“I think as a community we will be able to say ‘I helped to bring this vision of a comprehensive cancer facility’ to where it is and I hope that many people would be able to say this, whether it is the vendor on the street or the corporate CEO sitting in a comfortable Office. I hope that sense of belonging I helped to make this happen is there at the end of the day. It is really important for us when we look back in years to come to say we were there when OMIFAC was unveiled.”

Animashaun further appealed to individuals, corporate bodies, others to contribute to OMIFAC in order to help cancer patients.