The government has been urged to absorb the cost of all cancer treatment in the country.
That, according to the Principal Medical Physicist at the National Radiotherapy Oncology and Nuclear Medicine Centre at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Dr Theophilus Sackey, was crucial to limiting the exposure of patients to quacks and unsafe treatments that often lead to complications and loss of lives.
“Depending on the treatment modality one is put on, one can spend aminimum of GHc10,000 on each and that is an amount the average Ghanaian cannot raise.
“People come here and once they are told the cost, they go soliciting for funds and by the time they come back, a stage one case which could have been easily treated has developed to stage three. Unfortunately, cancer cannot wait and government must help absorb more of these bills,” he pleaded.
Dr Sackey was speaking to the Ghanaian Times at the launch of the 25th anniversary celebration of the centre which has the vision to provide comprehensive treatment to enhance the quality of life and prolong survival rate of cancer patients on the sub-region.
On the theme; “25 years of excellence in comprehensive cancer care in Ghana” the celebration brought together founding and present staff of the centre as well as other health professionals at the hospital.
Dr Sackey cautioned cancer patients against the use of herbal products and unorthodox medications being purported to cure cancers.
“From what we know, most of these treatments don’t work. For instance, in the case of breast cancer there are different kinds, so there is no one size fits all drug or herb that can treat it. Some don’t survive and others have worsened conditions.
Once you are diagnosed, report at the health facility. Currently we have the capacity to manage all types of cancer in the country and if government is able to support the cost of treatment, we can save lots of lives,” he said.
Reading a speech on behalf of the sector Minister, the Director of Technical Co-ordination at the Ministry, Dr BaffourAwuah, commended the centre for its contribution towards reducing cancer deaths and improving survival rate of cancer patients in the country.
“The centre has reduced referrals of cancer patients outside the country. Now this country can boast of cancer survivors. Twenty-five years of this centre has resulted in comprehensive cancer care in the country, training in the health force for Ghana and Africa, and also a lot of research is ongoing and we all look forward to achieving universal health coverage in cancer care in the country.”
The head of the centre, Dr Joel Yarney, said it was the hope of the centre to become an ultramodern centre for the diagnosis and management of cancer across the sub-region.
“Cancer is not a death sentence. Early diagnosis and treatment save lives and we encourage all to seek early treatment,” he advised.
Some activities lined up for the 25th anniversary include, free cervical and breast cancer screening for staff of KBTH and residents of Dodowa in the Greater Accra Region, health walk, fundraising and awards for health staff.
BY ABIGAIL ANNOH