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Cancer Care: Consultant backs FG on Palliative Care, Chemosafe policies

By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja, Nov. 3, 2020

Dr Isreal Kolawole, a Consultant Anesthetic and Palliative Care Clinician, on Tuesday commended the Federal Government’s review of the National Palliative Care and Chemosafe Policies.

Kolawale, a consultant at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that the review would eliminate cancer patients’ challenges in Nigeria.

NAN recalls that the Federal Ministry of Health and stakeholders in the health sector reviewed the policies during the Cancer week, which held from Oct. 26 to Oct. 30.

Palliative Care Policy has to do with cancer patients in critical conditions, while Chemosafe Policy has to do with the safe administration of medicine to cancer patients.

The consultant described the review of the palliative care policy as a welcome development that would aid the growth of palliative care in the country.

“Without the Palliative Care policy, there will be no strong government backing and support for the service but once there is a policy, it will give the government direction on the cause of action.

“Before now, the growth of palliative care in Nigeria has been very slow because there has not been strong government support, especially in the area of budgetary allocation.

“We hope that once the policy is in place, government will see the need in making budgetary provision for the service because palliative care policy is all encompassing.

“It is very important, it is holistic; it addresses challenges for those in life threatening diseases; both cancer and non-communicable life threatening diseases,” he said.

According to him, the palliative care policy will address challenges of cancer patients that have been neglected in the current medical care in Nigeria.

Kolawole also commended the Federal Government for addressing the problem of inadequate supply of morphine, adding that the medicine was core in managing pains in cancer patients.

Morphine is a drug used to treat moderate to severe pain; it binds to opioid receptors in the central nervous system and some other tissues.

“We used to have inadequate supply of Morphine but the problem is being addressed because there is now a budgetary allocation for it.

“When there is no Morphine, you can hardly practice palliative care; it is core because pain is the core problem of cancer.

“Morphine is the strongest analgesic known today that can take care of the pain. When there is no morphine, patients suffer unduly,” he said.

Kolawole added that the Chemosafe policy would address the issue of availability and affordability of cancer drugs and also its genuineness.

According to him, the Chemosafe policy will ensure that chemotherapy drugs that are used for chemosafe as well as make the chemotherapy drugs available at a cheaper rate.

“Right now, the drugs are very expensive. The policy harmonises the drugs commonly used for cancer and purchase them in bulk.

“Once it is purchased in bulk, the final price to patients is reduced. It could be reduced to 50 per cent of the original price.

“It also ensures that the drugs that are being purchased are from the original manufacturers, because there are lot of fake drugs in the market,” he said.

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