The Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy in Nigeria (CECP), on Wednesday urged the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation to the health sector to enhance economic growth.
They made the call at a news conference on cancer awareness, organised by the NSE in conjunction with CECP in Lagos.
Prof. Pat Utomi, Chairman of CECP, said that healthcare was a priority to economic growth and development.
“Healthcare and education are very fundamental because these measure the level of progress in an economy and if government can get this right, anything they are doing is right.
“Government urgently needs to improve health sector budgetary allocation and strategy.
“The healthcare management in the country is not up to standard, government needs to do a lot more work to ensure that efficiency and professionalism is achieved in the health sector.’’
Utomi said that cancer was one of the major ailments that had become a challenge in the country.
He said that Nigeria had lost many of her citizens to the cancer scourge, in addition to the movement of millions of Naira and people moving from Nigeria to Indian and Europe looking for cure.
According to him, the cancer scourge needs the collaborative effort of all Nigerians, especially the corporate organisations.
He said: “We cannot create wealth if our people are not well’’.
“If we collectively try to fight the challenges we face, we will make sustainable growth and instead of competitive effort, we need collaborative effort in fighting cancer.
“There is also need to achieve the establishment of Mobile Cancer Centres (MCC) in every state of the federation, including the Federal Capital Territory.
“This is the time to cooperate and take care of this spreading scourge. One MCC can go through all communities and more.
“If we have these cancer units, we will have dramatic savings, we will grow the economy and have better healthcare for everyone,’’ he said.
Dr Abia Nzelu, Executive Secretary, CECP, said that the aim of establishing MCCs was to take the big war against cancer to the grassroots.
According to her, over 80,000 people died of cancer annually in Nigeria, and this was, especially as a result of late presentation, poor diagnoses and lack of adequate facilities to manage the cases.
She said that one third of cancer cases could be prevented through education, vaccination and screening.
“Most cancer cases in children are curable, but unfortunately, in Nigeria, 80 per cent of children die due to lack of facilities.
“For prostate cancer, 26 Nigerian men die daily as a result of prostate cancer, while 40 Nigerian women die daily due to breast cancer.
“The factors responsible for the survival of most cancer cases are early diagnosis and first class treatment, so, there is urgent need to reflect the same in our society,’’ she said
Nzelu said that a Mobile Cancer Centre would be the first point for detection and early treatment of cases that were not advanced.
“Each MCC will have facilities for screening, mammography, colostomy, sonogram and laboratory for the testing of other risk factors for cancer such as diabetes, malaria and hepatitis.
“It will also have a theatre for early treatment of some identified cases. We have a target of screening 100,000 people in each state annually.
“We are aiming at having an MCC in each state of the federation, including the FCT, and it is estimated that one MCC will cost 600,000 dollars.’’ Nzelu said.
In the same vein, Mr Bola Adeeko, Head of Corporate Service Division, NSE, urged corporate bodies and philanthropists to partner in the project of raising funds for the establishment of MCCs.
“The fight against cancer has to be collaborative. We urge everyone to be part of this cause.
“NSE recognises she has a part to play in supporting economic growth and developing the environment.
“On health focus, the NSE supports initiatives that positively contribute to combating issues such as cancer, malaria, HIV/AIDS, diabetes and hepatitis.
“So, in partnership with CECP, we are raising awareness on the prevention and treatment of cancer in Nigeria.
“We have a goal of acquiring 37 MCCs, so, we urge companies and individuals to be part of this project,’’ he said.
Adeeko said that NSE would be organising a 5km race on May 16, as part of his Corporate Challenge to increase the level of cancer awareness and raise funding to acquire the MCCs.
Source : Leadership