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‘Cancer crippling global economy with N417.6 trillion lost yearly’


The project team during the unveiling of mobile cancer centre to mark 2018 World Cancer Day in Lagos… yesterday.PHOTO: AYODELE ADENIRAN 

Nigeria loses over N2.1tr annually to disease

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have alerted that the economic impact of cancer is significant and is increasing as the total yearly economic cost of disease was estimated at approximately $1.16 trillion (N417.6 trillion).

A new study published Thursday in the journal, Cancer Epidemiology, evaluated, for the first time, the cost of productivity lost due to premature cancer deaths in several major emerging economies.Led by the IARC in partnership with leading cancer research institutions in these countries, the study shows that the productivity loss in Brazil, the Russian Federation, India, China, and South Africa, collectively known as the BRICS countries, reached $46.3 billion (N16.6 trillion) in 2012.

IARC is an inter-governmental agency forming part of the WHO of the United Nations (UN).Meanwhile, the cost of cancer treatment globally had reached a record high from $75 billion in 2009 to $100 billion in 2014, which represented a 25 per cent increase in five years.

According to the IMS report, the global spending on oncology medicines broke the $100 billion threshold in 2014. IMS Health is a leading global information and technology services company providing clients in the healthcare industry with comprehensive solutions to measure and improve their performance.

However, investigation by The Guardian revealed that Nigeria loses over N2.1 trillion to cancer yearly. The breakdown showed that 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed of cancer yearly, according to latest figures from the WHO and the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries (NSCR).

It was also gathered that an average cancer patient, on regular screening, clinical assessment and chemotherapy, over the course of a year, may accumulate N5 million to N20 million or more in medical bills depending on the type of cancer, the type of treatment and where the treatment is being accessed.It was further learnt that Nigeria has few comprehensive cancer centres and lacks adequate treatment facilities hence citizens are compelled to spend over $200 million (N72 billion) yearly on treatment abroad.

A radiologist at the Radiation Medicine Department at University of Nigeria College of Medicine (UNCM) and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, told The Guardian: “In Nigeria, the rising incidence of cancer and the paucity of institutional facilities and specialist man-power implies that the burden of care rests largely on relatives. We assessed the severity of indices of psycho-social and economic burden among relatives of women with breast and cervical cancer; and its relationship with patients’ psychosocial distress.”

Also, the WHO in a fact sheet said only one in five low- and middle-income countries have the necessary data to drive cancer policy and cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. According to the WHO, the most common causes of cancer death are cancers of: lung (1.69 million deaths); liver (78,000 deaths); colorectal (77,000 deaths); stomach (75,000 deaths) and breast (57,000 deaths).

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