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COVID-19 compounding cancer survivors challenges – expert

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Executive Secretary, Mass Medical Mission (MMM), Dr. Abia Nzelu has said the Coronavirus pandemic has compounded the plight of cancer patients in the country.

According to her, COVID-19 has been unforgiving on people living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) with cancer survivors at higher risk of severe COVID-19-related illness and death.

Speaking on the International Cancer Survivors Day, Nzelu said the day set aside to celebrate cancer survivors, was meant to appreciate all those who contributed to survivors; honour fallen warriors, whilst raising awareness on the ongoing challenges facing cancer survivors. She noted that though the impact of COVID-19 is global, developing countries are worse hit.

“In Nigeria, COVID-19 poses uniquely quadruple jeopardy for cancer patients, because of the increased susceptibility of cancer patients to COVID-19; the dearth of infrastructure for cancer care.” restriction on medical tourism, due to the lockdown and the diversion of scarce resources towards addressing COVID-19 crisis.”

The oncologist lamented that in spite of the glaring deficiency in the healthcare infrastructure, Nigeria’s 2020 budget has been revised, with a cut in health budget by 42.6 per cent, which is in sharp contrast to what obtains in several other countries where the health budgets have been increased to integrate NCDs services into the national COVID-19 plans.


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