People don’t need to fly abroad for cancer treatment, says Audu Ogbeh
‘I have been around for about two weeks checking my prostate health and I am okay now’
Former Minister of Agriculture and erstwhile chairman of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Audu Innocent Ogbeh, has given reasons why Nigerians should no longer go abroad for cancer treatment.
Ogbeh told The Guardian during his routine prostate health medical check up at Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)/Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Cancer Centre: “I got to know about this centre from a friend of mine, Dr. Funso who was working with me when I was in the Ministry of Agriculture. As you know every other African man goes through the challenge of prostrate and will have to check that it does not get out of hand. So I came here to do mine and for me it is a big discovery. I am amazed that such a centre exists and it is absolutely amazing what they have done here. So
I have been around for about two weeks checking my prostate health and I am okay now.
“But in the process of my visit I have also met many Nigerians with challenges who cant afford the treatment cost. The centre is doing its best but running the centre is not cheap. They have consultants and highly trained persons. They have machines that must be connected to the power system permanently so they have to run their generators and so on. These machines are very sophisticated. One of the ones I have seen here, I am told it is only of its kind in Africa for now.
“Please let the country know that this centre exists, it is functioning delivering the same results which Nigerians go abroad to seek and we need to support the centre. By that I mean funds to help the very vulnerable in society who cannot afford to be treated. I met a gentleman yesterday who brought his son and the boy has a brain tumour. They started treatment and he got stuck. It is going to cost him N1 million and he has no money.
“We are trying to see if we can find little help here and there. If he had to go to India, it will probably cost him N10 million. For those other Nigerians who have had to go to the United Kingdom (UK) or United States (US) for prostrate cancer treatment. In a place like UK it costs about 36,000 pounds, what will not cost more than N3 million here. You see on television almost so often especially on AIT appeals for help, families that need N5 million to go to India. A large number of these cases can be handled here but they cannot be.
“First of all it is a disgrace to Nigeria that we keep advertising these things. Number two if centres like these exist and we need many more then as a people we need to raise funds to support government and spread these centres. This has been done with the help of NSIA and it is working. We should have them in the East, we should have them in the West with more in Lagos, in the North Central, everywhere so that this medical tourism can be reduced and these services they are rendering is cheap compared to what we have outside.
“I am going to start talking to people I know can help. There is a foundation here, which has been here for a while, but most of the members have died but Prof. Francis Durosinmi-Etti is still alive. We are trying to revive it. Ask Nigerians to send in some help, we put something in a fixed deposit and what is coming as interest from it can be used to help the very vulnerable. You see a man the child eye is bulging and there is a tumour and there is a young lady who has been treated and it is amazing and that is why I came here today to see her. Now she is preparing to go to the university. It is a major feat I see in Nigeria today that a centre like this exists and being run by dedicated highly trained people- oncologists, radiotherapists and so on- for much less.
“Secondly, let us give some more dignity to our country. Go to India, Pakistan, the same service is rendered here cheaper and more effectively. Instead going through all the prejudices we go through when we go abroad because we are black and we don’t have that much respect outside this continent.
“We need more centres, we need to support the existing ones and in future as we are build them, set them in locations where there can be modest hotels where people stay in at low rate even if they are reasonably subsidized by government so people can walk across get treatment and go.
“The centre is working and I can testify to that. People do not have to fly abroad. Frankly we have competent hands and good machinery to handle situations.”
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