Cancer now a leading killer disease in Nigeria – UCH CMD

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By; BAYO AKAMO, Ibadan.
Chief Medical Director (CMD) of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Professor Temitope Alonge has identified cancer as the leading killer disease in Nigeria since 2012.
The Chief Medical Director dropped the hint while speaking at the commissioning of the UCH molecular Diagnostic Centre in the Pathology Department, in Ibadan.
According to him, the available records at the hospital since 2012 clearly revealed that cancer is presently the topmost killer disease in Nigeria till date, saying, “Between 2012-2013, the pattern of death was infection related, trauma and emergencies but assumed a new twist in the last three years”.
“In evaluating the causes of death that began in 2012, we needed to know where to focus attention on, many things can cause death but the ones that cause most death, we need to be able to focus and address those issues so it can reduce the death burden from that particular disease and it has turned out that in 2012, the commonest cause was infection related, HIV positive patients with AIDS followed closely by trauma and emergencies. But then over the years, we discovered that cancer related causes was almost constant and by 2015, in a spate of three years, the commonest cause of death was cancer related” he said.
Professor Alonge added that “therefore, when  we saw the trend in 2012-13, we decided to visit the oldest cancer institute in the world which is in the Roswell park Houston, New York to find out how they managed to sustain their excellence and how they were able to offer cancer care in their 100 years. It turned out that they have basic science arm, like a research centre being commissioned in UCH presently and feeds result back to the clinical sector to let them know the patterns of cancer and the treatment modalities that can be targeted.”
He maintained that before the commissioning of the centre, researches were merely carried out in hospitals followed by treatment without looking for a particular disease, adding that with the centre, UCH would be able to define the characters and attitude of the cancer, the kind of treatment that can work and one that cannot work so you don’t just go ahead working blindly.
“However, not one cancer is the same with the other, they have different characteristics, we have two people with breast cancer, while one is dead, the other one is still alive 10 years after, why because we have different characteristics, different make ups, different attitudes.
“Like I said, you want to kill a bird in the bush and you have a hundred birds and begin to shoot aimlessly, one might ended up not even killing one. However, if you are able to entice the birds, you can put it in a cage, then you can shoot and kill it. And this is what this centre is designed for, it can target treatment of every cancer per patient, it is an individualistic approach to cancer care, meaning it can find out which class of cancer. ”
He stressed further that beyond cancer care and management, the centre can also  infer whether or not a patient has good survival rate from the tests carried out.
“We are a proud recipient of the generosity of Alhaji Nurudeen Oluwasola who has deemed it fit to support this institution, to provide targeted treatment protocols for patients with various cancers. We have the facilities on ground to help other teaching hospitals in the South West and probably the entire country who need molecular pathology diagnosis of different issues, we have the expertise, we have the wherewithal, all we need to do us to equip the place more.  “Some of the equipment we require for now are not available, while make effort to source for them, we appeal to well meaning Nigerians to support us in this regard so that we can function maximally. At the moment, we are operating above 20 percent but with the necessary equipment, we can function 100 percent”.
The Chief Medical Director disclosed that the complex equipped with six standard size Medical laboratories and office spaces, was built by Alhaji Nurudeen Akanji Oluwasola in response to the hospital’s call for Public Private Partnership (PPP) in the health care delivery as a way of discouraging Nigerians from seeking medical treatment outside their country.
Professor Alonge said the newly commissioned Centre, has the capacity for preventive and clinical diagnostic services as well as state-of-the-art research opportunities in Karyotyoping (Sex determination); Molecular oncology (Solid tumour mutation panel); Haemato-oncology (Flow cytometry to evaluate lymphoproliferative diseases); and HPV genotyping (for screening women for risk of cervical cancer),  Tissue bio-repository services to facilitate basic, developmental and translational studies in many areas of cancer research including molecular biology, immunology and genetics, Forensic sciences such as STR analysis for Disaster victim identification, Disputed paternity tests, and Criminal Investigation like the semen, blood stain and hair shaft.
Soliciting for more public support for UCH, he said the Centre shall promote multi-disciplinary and interdisciplinary partnership to foster a healthy and harmonious atmosphere for quality and excellent healthcare delivery in all fields of clinical care.
“The vision of the designers is to put an end to out-sourcing of critical tests from overseas facilities at exorbitant costs which are often beyond the reach of the average Nigerians,” he said.
The Coordinator of the newly-commissioned Diagnostic Centre who is one of the children of the donor, Dr. Olayiwola Oluwasola in his remark said, Pa Oluwasola’s gesture is due to his belief in contributing to human development from his God-given endowments.

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