The Sixth Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Association of Radiation and Clinical Oncologists of Nigeria (ARCON) received high praise from Governor Peter Ndubuisi Mbah of Enugu State during the event held on Tuesday, September 12, 2023. The conference, themed “Equity in Oncology, Patients, Practice, and Policy,” gathered medical professionals and experts to address the growing challenge of cancer care in Nigeria and Africa.
Governor Mbah, represented by his Deputy, Barrister Ifeanyi Ossai, commended the dedication of oncologists in tackling the pressing issue of cancer care. He emphasized the alarming increase in cancer cases in Nigeria and the profound impact it has on patients and their families. The Governor expressed his commitment to improving primary healthcare access in the state, emphasizing the importance of early detection in managing the disease. “Nothing should stop us from ensuring that people get out of cancer problems,” he declared.
Governor Mbah also voiced his concerns about non-medical practitioners running primary healthcare centers and the proliferation of self-proclaimed “social media doctors.” He called for measures to address these issues, describing them as criminal and potentially harmful to patients.
The Governor commended the resilience of doctors in the state, acknowledging the challenges they face, including patient assaults. He encouraged them to continue their noble work in saving lives.
Dr. Nwamaka Lasebikan, President of ARCON, delivered an insightful speech during the conference, focusing on the theme of equity in oncology. She highlighted the launch of the Lancet Oncology commission report on the state of cancer in Africa and Nigeria, which has the potential to reshape cancer care in the region. Dr. Lasebikan emphasized the financial burden of cancer on families, pushing millions into poverty due to high out-of-pocket spending. Nigeria faces alarming statistics, with an estimated 125,000 new cancer cases and over 78,000 deaths annually.
Dr. Lasebikan stressed the need for a disruptive approach to address these challenges, one that strengthens the healthcare system and promotes equitable access to services while prioritizing cost-effective solutions. The ARCON President highlighted the conference as a testament to the commitment of oncologists to address disparities in cancer care through meaningful discussions, innovative research, and experience sharing.
Dr. Kenneth Nwankwo, the Local Organizing Chairman of ARCON, echoed the concerns about the rising number of cancer cases, often diagnosed at advanced stages. He called upon all stakeholders to work together to reduce the burden of cancer in Nigeria, emphasizing the growth of cancer centers with the involvement of private organizations.
The Sixth Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of ARCON provided a platform for medical professionals, policymakers, and experts to collaborate and seek solutions to the pressing issue of cancer care in Nigeria, with a shared commitment to making healthcare more equitable and accessible.