Hopes are high in the cancer care community in Rivers State that at last, the rarest facility for treating it is about to come to the state. This is because the Rivers State sponsored Dr Peter Odili Cancer Centre in Port Harcourt would get the radiology facility that would help in the treatment of cancer patients.
A radiology machine is indicated to be able to emit a heavy and concentrated beam of electrons called X-ray photons. The photons travel through the air, make contact with the body and its tissues, and produce an image on a metal film. The beam’s high-energy rays cannot be absorbed by soft tissues like the skin and organs.
For years, cancer patients are referred to faraway centres such as Lagos and Abuja to get radiotherapy.
The University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital (UPTH) had as at 2015 planned for a radiology centre with a radiology machine but after spending about N1Bn to set up the housing facilities, the project got stuck to this day. The present management says it is keen on reviving the dream but the cancer team has cried out for urgent actions to bring a radiology machine to the UPTH.
A non-governmental organisation (NGO) is keen to bring a radiology machine to Port Harcourt with some foreign partners. The wife of the founder was said to have died of nasopharyngeal cancer two years ago and is determined to help those alive. The NGO said the cost has been put at N6.5bn.
UPTH cancer centre sources said most patients cannot afford travel and lodgment costs to Lagos or Abuja plus fees for the radiotherapy costs. The source said many gave up and died.
Now, Governor Nyesom Wike seems to raise hopes when he went for inspection at the ‘Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease Diagnostic and Treatment Centre’. There, he said the centre would stem capital flight and promote medical tourism in the State.
He said the Cancer and Cardiovascular Diagnosis Treatment Centre would soon be inaugurated and open to the public, and would serve as a vehicle for promoting economic and social development and generating revenue for the State.
The governor explained that his administration was spurred to embark on the construction of the multi-billion naira Cancer and Cardiovascular Diagnosis Treatment Centre to help patients who cannot afford to travel abroad for medical treatment.
He said when the centre would be commissioned and open for public use, it would be drastically reduce the number of those seeking medical treatment overseas, as complicated cases would be conveniently treated in Port Harcourt.
“Most people have died, particularly because of one type of cancer or one type of heart disease. And so many of these people also may not have had the money to travel overseas for treatment. So, we said look, we can’t continue to allow this.”
Governor Wike noted that though the country has lots of cancer and cardiovascular experts, the lack of technologically advanced medical equipment and standard hospital often impede their potentials.
According to him, the world class ‘Dr. Peter Odili Cancer and Cardiovascular Diagnosis Treatment Centre’ will be equipped with state-of-the-art medical facilities to enable medical experts maximise their full potentials in the State.
The governor, who took time to inspect the helipad, the doctor’s quarters, therapy centre, the landscaping and some of the state-of-the-art medical equipment, disclosed that the Rivers State government will engage private partners to manage the hospital.
“We are already having discussion with partners overseas who will come and run this centre. We won’t leave it to the Ministry of Health, but their doctors will be part of it. We will do it in such a way that it will be public private partnership so that we don’t regret investing in this edifice.”
The Rivers State governor commended the contractor, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc for adhering to the terms of the contract and the timeline set for the completion of the project.
“A project we said will be completed within one year, Julius Berger has completed it. All we are waiting for is to take a date and commission it. This is world class standard. The Cancer and Cardiovascular Diagnosis Treatment Centre is world class. I’m not comparing, but I don’t know any cancer and cardiovascular diagnosis treatment centre that can match this. If you have travelled all over the world, you’ll know what it is.”
He said the Centre would be commissioned in October along with the 8th and 9th flyovers, and the dualised Ahoada-Omoku Road.