The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, has said that the second cancer machine at the National Hospital, Abuja will commence operations January 2019.
Mr Adewole said this while inspecting the cancer centre extension and a newly installed second cancer equipment.
According to a statement issued on Friday and signed by the ministry’s spokesperson, Boade Akinola, the machine was donated by SNEPCO Nigeria limited, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), as part of her corporate social responsibility to Nigerians.
The second machine came a few months after the first one was installed at the hospital. The first machine, which was installed in 2017 initially spent about four years in the crate.
Access to radiotherapy treatment in the country has been a major challenge for cancer patients and most of them have been dying in numbers
Before the installation of this new machine, Nigeria could only boast of eight government-owned radiotherapy machines located in different areas in the country.
Unfortunately, many of the machines have broken down and those functional are not functioning at full capacity.
Most have broken down as a result of overuse, old age and lack of proper maintenance, and cannot get fixed due to lack of spare parts and relevant technical expertise.
The previous LINAC cancer machine used at the National Hospital stopped working since February 2017.
This has forced many cancer patients to travel out of the country to seek treatment in neighbouring countries and fostering medical tourism for the country.
Mr Adewole said the new equipment, worth more than $1 million, would reduce patients’ plight in seeking cancer treatments as it has the capacity to treat at least 100 patients a day.
“This puts the total number of patients that could be treated at the centre at two-hundred (200) when the two machines at the centre are fully in use,” he said.
He said with the installation of the second equipment in the centre, the National hospital will be the only cancer hospital in Africa to run two of such machines.
With this feat achieved, Mr Adewole said, no Nigerian ”would go abroad for cancer treatment except by choice and not a necessity.”
He said that the centre would also receive a PEI/CT machine (an imaging device for cancer diagnosis and treatment.
The minister, however, said the cost of treatment at the hospital would depend on the type of cancer presented.
Cancer treatment is always very expensive for the patients and their families and it is yet to be covered by the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Mr Adewole said that the federal government would keep revising the prices of treatment so as to make it affordable.
He said the federal government was determined to build one of such centres at each of the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Speaking on the preparedness of the hospital for the expected influx, the Chief Medical Director (CMD), National Hospital, Jaff Momoh, said the centre has top medical personnel trained on cancer treatment and management.