There are less than 90 oncologists (cancer specialists) caring for the needs of 201 million Nigerians, a cancer advocacy organisation, Project Pink Blue has said.
Runcie Chidebe, Executive Director, Project of the organization stated this Wednesday in Abuja during the launch of a training programme for cancer specialists tagged ‘Upgrade Oncology’.
He said: “For a population of 201 million, Nigeria has less than 90 clinical oncologists who provide cancer treatment to over 100,000 cancer patients across the cancer centres.
“In our calculation, it means that there is only one cancer doctor to over 1,100 cancer patients in Nigeria.”
While lamenting the mass migration of healthcare workers from Nigeria to foreign countries in recent years, Chidebe said the situation had worsened the inequitable distribution of health care workers in the country.
“As of today, 9 in 10 Nigerian physicians are seeking opportunities abroad.
“In Nigeria, there are 74,543 registered physicians, however, only an estimated 40,000 are practising in the country for a population of 201 million,” he lamented.
He said it is estimated that Nigeria will approximately need 149,852 doctors and 471,353 nurses by 2030, but that only 99,120 doctors and 333,494 nurses will be available based on the growth rate.
“With the above data, by 2030, Nigeria will have a shortage of 50,120 doctors and 137,859 nurses, translating to 33.45% and 29.25% gap in doctors’ and nurses’ supply,” he said.
President, Nigeria Cancer Society, Dr Adamu Al-Hassan Umar, said the depreciating state of the country’s health facilities, late presentation, limited access to quality care, poor distribution of oncologists and high cost of cancer therapies among others were some of the biggest reasons for poor cancer outcomes in Nigeria.
Chief Executive Officer, Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, Osayi Alile, said quality cancer treatment required the best medical professionals that specialize in key cancer treatment areas such as pharma-oncology, chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy, palliative and survivorship.
Chairman, Oncology Pharmacist Practitioners Association of Nigeria (OPPAN), Pharm Ramat Masud Alabelewe, said Nigeria had only 61 pharmacists who specialize in oncology care, in 16 hospitals across the country.
“Some of the pharmacists have the required knowledge and skills, others require additional training,” Pharm Alabelewe added.