• Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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BusinessDay

Nigerians want govt to subsidise cancer drugs as prices skyrocket

Drugmakers see decline in fortunes despite soaring prices

…as NOI Polls show 62% of Nigerians don’t know cancer-causing habits

Nigerians in a poll conducted by NOI Polls, an opinion polling and research organisation, have asked the Nigerian government to make cancer drugs cheaper, affordable and accessible to the people.

Respondents in the poll also emphasised the need for the government to assist people suffering from the ailment through subsidised treatment, especially as prices of pharmaceuticals have risen astronomically in the country.

Read also: Cancer care in Nigeria: A deep dive into numbers, cost, closing care gap

Other recommendations include the provision of medical check-ups, centres for cancer screening, making equipment readily available, and investing in medical and cancer research.

According to the NOI Polls, not less than 77 percent of Nigerians were aware of the prevalence of cancer, but up to 62 percent did not know the habits capable of causing the life-threatening disease.

The poll showed that, among those who know the cause, 14 percent attribute it to eating canned foods, seven percent said it was due to poor hygiene, six percent said it was hereditary, three percent attributed it to smoking, one percent said it was the use of bleaching cream, and another one percent linked it to keeping money in the brazier.

The poll, which sought to find out what the average Nigerian thinks about cancer and how best to tackle it, adopted a proportionate random sample that was representative of the entire country and was conducted through telephone interviews in May 2023.

The sample size was drawn from adults aged 18 and above, but most of the 1, 091 respondents were aged 36-60 across the six geopolitical zones.

The cancer poll was launched and presented on Monday in Abuja by Chike Nwangwu, CEO, of NOI Polls Ltd during the World Cancer Day Symposium.

Nwangwu noted that though cancer awareness was high, many Nigerians were ignorant of the causes.

The poll results further show that 28 percent of respondents agreed that either they or a family member have suffered from the ailment; while 27 percent mentioned lump growth as a major symptom of cancer, and eight percent said stomach or backache. Others said bruises or wounds, breast pain, and irregular menstrual flow, among others.

Cancer is a leading cause of death globally and resulted in about 10 million deaths in 2020 alone according to the World Health Organisation.

Read also: WHO alerts to rising cancer mortality rate in Africa

The National Cancer Control Plan shows that cancer is responsible for 78,800 deaths every year, with estimated new cases of 102,000 every year.

One of the major challenges which patients grapple with is the high cost of cancer treatment and care. Clare Omatsaye, vice president of the African Healthcare Federation, speaking at the symposium decried that the out-of-pocket expenses for cancer care have assumed a catastrophic level.

Omatsaye said treatment for breast used to cost an average of N2 million, but will now cost between N5 million and N40 million; Prostrate cancer costs N1.3 million – 4million now costs over 5 million; while cervical cancer rose from N1 to N3 million.

Some of the reasons she attributed to the rise include inflation, the foreign exchange crisis, and the exit of some pharmaceuticals, among others.