Monday, April 5, 2010

Treatment for cancer too costly for an average Cameroonian

The diagnosis and treatment of cancer costs about FCFA 2.1 million experts say. This cost according to officials of the National Cancer Control Committee (NCCC), is more than what an average Cameroonian can afford.

The revelation was made recently in Yaoundé during a symposium on the treatment of cancer last February 16, 2010. Talking at the opening of the symposium, the Permanent Secretary of NCCC, Prof. Doh Anderson Sama who is also director of the Yaoundé Gynaco Obstetric and Paediatric Hospital said more than 11 million people are diagnosed of cancer while 7 million die of the disease every year.

He reiterated that some 16 million new cancer cases are expected in the year 2020 with some 10 million deaths. In Cameroon, 12.000 people die each year of cancer.

While calling on government to subsidise the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in Cameroon, the Deputy Secretary of the NCCC, Dr. Paul Ndoum affirmed that cancer drugs are not only expensive but scarce too. To Dr. Paul Ndoum, the NCCC is doing all at its level with partners like Sanofi Adventis and others to make sure drugs are available to Cameroonians and at affordable rates.

To Dr. Orock Enaw of the Biyem Assi District hospital in Yaoundé, high cancer related deaths are found in non-literate and the rate reduces as one moves up the education ladder as very low cases of cancer are often registered in University graduates. The women are also highly affected as one out of every thirty women is affected by cancer, Dr. Orock said in his exposé.

Given that sports and physical activities help check cancer, the military, experts say, is also less affected by cancer for the fact that they are constantly carrying out sporting activities and do not also involve themselves in alcohol and drugs.

Amongst the various types of cancer that exist, breast cancer is the most common in Cameroon with prevalence rate of 32.4%.

Between the years 2004-2008, cancer deaths were at 16.5% with breast cancer recording the highest number (742 deaths), cervix and prostate registering 555 and 330 cases respectively. In a related development, the National Cancer Control Committee has urged the Cameroon government to create cancer screening centres in all regional headquarters to ease cancer screening in the country.The call was made by the Permanent Secretary of the NCCC, Prof. Doh Anderson during a ceremony to mark the cancer week at the Yaoundé Hilton hotel.

Cognisant of the efforts the government through the Ministry of Public Health is putting in place to fight the disease, the Permanent Secretary said much is still to be done as drugs and diagnostic centres are not available in all the regions which makes it difficult for the patients to be diagnosed and treated even if they can afford the high cost.

It is worthy of note that in 2004, the government signed a convention with a pharmaceutical company known as SANOFI ADVENTIS which resulted in the reduction of the companies most effective cancer drug (taxotere) to about 70%. The drug according to the officials of the company was hitherto sold at FCFA 480.000 and after the convention it costs FCFA170.000.

By NDI Eugene NDI

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