The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has approved the deployment of one of the apheresis machines, donated to the ministry by Equinor Nigeria Energy Limited, to the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital (UATH), to ease single donor blood product processing.
Dr. Ehanire, who made the donation at the hospital premises located in Gwagwalada, Abuja, while commissioning the new 20-bed pediatric cancer complex built and donated to the hospital by the Abuja Metropolitan Lions Club (AMLC).
He also approved the inclusion of the hospital as a beneficiary of the Cancer Access Partnership (CAP) programme as well as the pilot system strengthening strategy to improve pediatric cancer services in Nigeria.
The minister said supportive care for cancer patients is very critical, especially with blood and blood products, adding that the inadequate availability of such supportive care has been identified as one of the major challenges of cancer care services in health institutions across the country.
He said: “The story of childhood cancers in developing countries is gloomy. There is lack of access to quality care. Available care is often fraught with issues that hamper optimal outcomes. It is always a welcome partnership when well-meaning Nigerians and civil society organisations contribute to improving the care of these children.
“Recently, we have witnessed an apparent upsurge in the incidence of pediatric cancers nationwide. This is due in part to improved diagnostic and treatment capacity of our health institutions as well as improved registration of pediatric cancers by the Nigerian National System of Cancer Registries,” he added.
In his welcome address, the Chief Medical Director (CMD) of UATH, Dr. Bisallah Ekele, lauded the AMLC for building such an edifice, saying the project will bring succor to the most vulnerable groups in the society (children with cancer).
“The hospital truly needs such support for the volume of indigent patients that patronise us is high; the number of unknown accident victims on admission is high; we are also the destination of choice for patients from the correctional facilities around us. The list is long.
“Though we have increased our hospital bed capacity from 350 to 500 in the course of four years, we still do not have enough beds for children with cancer. But with this gesture from Lions Club, we can now accommodate more patients. We have well-trained, experts in the management of cancers,” he assured.
Earlier, the president of the Club Lion Charlz Jestus Opusunju, stated that building of the Pediatric Oncology Centre is the core project for the 2020/2021 Lions year and expressed hope that it will go a long way to bring succor to the children who will benefit from services in the centre now and in the future.
“Since the inception of our Club 11 years ago, we have carried out so many projects to better the lots of our immediate communities. What happened here today is a milestone achievement, because it is a novel area of intervention in District 404A2. This project started in October 2020 and was completed this month as promised. It is a record period of 5 months with every standard procedure carefully adhered to in the course of construction,” he said.
Also in his remarks, the District 404A2 Governor Lion Elder Sunday Omini Eloma, he said the club aims at promoting the principle of good governance and good citizenship, take active interest in the civic cultural and moral welfare of the community and to encourage service minded people to their community without personal financial reward but to encourage efficiency and promote high ethical standards in commence, industry, professions, public works and private endeavours.