NEGATIVE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) PANDEMIC ON CANCER CARE IN NIGERIA; DR FEMI OGUNREMI WITH NEWS AGENCY OF NIGERIA.

Dr Femi Ogunremi, CEO Monitor Healthcare Ltd., in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday 8th June 2020 expressed his worry over the negative impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on cancer care in Nigeria.

In his statement, he said “It is very difficult, painful and concerning as well, because prior to COVID-19, there was quite a lot of works we have done around breast and cervical cancer across the country.

“Since the lockdown, due to the virus, understandably, there is no way we can move around.

“We have cases of people in hundreds that are meant to be followed up six weeks after initial treatment or screening.

“Unfortunately, we cannot follow up on them; recently, we received a distress call from a patient who is so worried and scared, because she had no follow up after her initial screening.

“This has had negative impact on cancer care as many people will be left unattended to,”

He says due to fear of the pandemic, patients now have their attention diverted from screening for cancer to that of saving themselves from the pandemic.

In his opinion the implications of not screening alongside getting appropriate care to manage the disease could be detrimental.

Dr Ogunremi went further to say, “I do not think it is appropriate for health professionals to just leave these people after we have screened them and commenced treatment for most of them.

“The pandemic has been on for so long now, and if these patients are not followed up on, they can develop full blown cancer, for those we detected earlier.

“We have to find the right solution that is safe for everybody to get screened and care.”

He said however that, there are modules in place, tagged COVID-19 safe screening, in which health personnel visited people’s houses with the Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and measures in place to screen them.

“What we have proposed to our patients across the country is that, if we have a cohort of people, we can visit to deliver screenings,

“We have done a couple of that; as this crisis continues, we may be looking at formalising such arrangement to see if we can move in small batches at a time,” He said.

He added that as we manage the acute phase of COVID-19, the impact which the neglect of chronic diseases could have on people should also be put into consideration.

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