Our country is an interesting place.
In a single afternoon in Abuja N7 Billion (£28 million) was raised in a single day to finance HajiaTurai YarAdua’s pet project – A state of the art cancer centre in Abuja. The plan is to raise N10 Billion (£40,000,000)! Hajia Turai’s project is reported by the Vanguard “to be born out of her utmost desire to contribute her little quota to achieve a focused delivery of health care. She said the centre is meant to render services to women and children, especially the rural and urban poor”. Read a full report in the Vanguard.
Hajia YarAdua is reported to have gotten the idea after a visit to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas in 2008.
Reading the reports on the launch has been interesting. Our politicians falling over themselves to commit funds to this project, while they cannot keep the few general hospitals in their states working. Legislators coming together to “donate” huge amounts while the National Health Bill has been stuck in the National Assembly for close to 5 years. The most comical was the Minister for the Federal Capital territory, and former Senator of our Federal Republic quoting health statistics – “disclosing” that in 2005 alone, 89,000 Nigerians lost their lives to cancer. Wow…where did he get his stat from? From the National Health Information Management System?
Since we are obviously passionate about health and health care in Nigeria…why are we not celebrating? There are several reasons….
1. We have several “centres of excellence” for medical care in our teaching hospitals. The last government spent most of its health sector budget in renovating them. Would £40 million pounds not be enough to set up a moderate cancer management centre affiliated to it. You would already have the doctors, nurses etc in place?
2. Nigeria extends 1,127 km (700 mi) E–W and 1,046 km (650 mi) N–S. How will the the rural women and children Hajia is targeting find their way to Abuja?
3. If Cancer Centre’s site had to be in Abuja, why not add it onto the National Hospital?
It turns out that we are not the only ones worried. Salisu Suleiman on 123NEXT advises that the worst killer disease in Nigeria today is not cancer, but poverty.
BUT having said all this, we still hope that the project works.
We really do. We hope she is being advised by professionals ready to see this to fruition, ready for the long haul. We hope that her advisers also advise her how to build cancer education programme across the country to inform people how to detect early tumours.
We hope that her advisers are planning a screening programme. We hope that her advisers are planning on the referral mechanisms from primary health care centres to Abuja. We hope that she is being advised that it is necessary for the knowledge, skills and equipment necessary for Pap smears, Mammographies, Chest xrays and other means to detect tumors etc…We hope that they are advising her on the skills and capacity to manage this centre. We hope that there is a clear strategy on how this center will interface with the rest of the country’s health system….
We hope…we hope…what else can we do?
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed people can change the world; indeed it is the only thing that ever has…Margaret Mead