The wife of Ondo State Governor, Arabinrin Betty-Anyanwu Akeredolu has recommended the use of Tele-medicine to diagnose and treat cancer patients in order to forestall future occurrence of a situation where patients couldn’t access medical care due to uncontrollable circumstances as witnessed during the COVID-19 lockdown.
She gave the recommendation at the virtual 2020 Annual General Meeting of the Nigerian Cancer Society with the theme:” Fate of cancer control in the post covid-19 era”.
According to the NCS Patroness, the inability of the cancer patients to visit hospitals for presentation, diagnosis and treatment would have grave consequences for cancer mortality in years to come, as it was reported by the Financial Express that on the average, cancer patients’ visits to hospitals have substantially declined by 64% after the outbreak of Covid-19.
Mrs Akeredolu, the founder of the Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria BRECAN who spoke at the event on behalf of all Non-governmental Organisations on the fight against cancer, was of the opinion that the use of advances in Tele-health and remote consultations which started during the pandemic could be improved on if there is a sustained political will and strategic leadership by both Government and the NCS.
“This can greatly reduce the impact of travel restrictions on patient presentation. Similarly, Tele-health has the potential of reducing the financial burden on cancer patients and their families by reducing long distance travels, bills for stays in hotels and guest houses.
“It is evident that the COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly all over the world, and this has made cancer morbidity and mortality acutely worse. Perhaps, the most challenging problem of cancer care is the complete or partial lockdown of many cities and even whole countries as a way to reduce the spread of the virus. This restriction of movement has adversely affected patients’ presentation, cancer diagnosis and treatment.
“Ultimately, the fate of cancer control in the post COVID-19 era will be determined by the ability of medical professionals to adapt to the current realities taking advantage of Tele-medicine portals (including audio and video facilities) and sustained effective leadership and political will by cancer organizations and government respectively”.
She appealed to the participants on the need to sustain a coordinated approach in the fight against cancer through effective leadership, saying, “To achieve this, we must ask ourselves these questions: What is our purpose as NGOs? What is the purpose of the Nigerian Cancer Society?
” If we must continue to recognize cancer as a leading life threatening disease in Nigeria and attract the support of the government, the importance of credible and strategic leadership cannot be overemphasized. For many years, we have yearned for a Nigerian Cancer Society that unites and leads all cancer organizations in Nigeria, yet the supposedly umbrella organization has not fully achieved this aim”.
She, however, expressed optimism to rebuild the NCS with the new executive council, who will bring in fresh ideas to deal with challenges in cancer control to improve access to care and survival.
“Indeed, if we must be successful in the post COVID-19 cancer fight, the Nigerian Cancer Society must step up and lead the way”, she stressed.
She, therefore, commended the Nigerian Cancer Society for organising the programme while commending all NGOs in the fight against cancer and encouraged them to keep up with the good work of kicking cancer out of the Society.