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PATIENTS COMMEND TAIMAKO WOMEN HEALTH FOUNDATION

By NBF News
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The most endemic problem in sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria inclusive, as it relates to women, is probably health.

Thus, many Nigerians were happy when the wife of a former president, Hajiya Turai Yar'Adua, initiated the Cancer Centre project in Abuja, where people could be tested for early detection and prevention of cancer, especially among women in the country.

However, the Abuja cancer centre and the other ones she helped to develop in some states across the nation seem to have become moribund.

So far, no one seems to be asking where the money realised at the launch of the project in 2009 is.

The only exception is the cancer centre in Nasarawa State, which seems to be doing fairly well enough.

A mild uproar which occurred recently in Ninth Mile of Enugu State would testify to this. As witnessed at Ninth, a large number of women, who were North-bound, boarded no other vehicle except those headed for or en route Nasarawa. The aggression that was displayed as they scrambled for tickets caught the attention of other travellers and employees at the park.

When approached, one of the women who was travelling with her child and maid, Mrs. Eucharia Onyia, narrated what would pass as a heart-breaking story.

She said of her ordeal: 'I have been suffering from what doctors perceive as cervical cancer for some time now, and all efforts adopted in Enugu here have yielded no positive result.

'My friend, whose case was a severe sore on the breast, seems to be getting the whole attention in Taimako Women Health Foundation. The last time I visited her, she was obviously doing well and recuperating fast,' she said.

She added, 'Though making this trip to Nasarawa was a hard nut to crack, most of us here decided to opt for it since we can't get the deserved attention at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital or any hospital here.

'It is better we take the risk and travel all the way to Nasarawa now that the disease is still in its formative stage, than allow oneself to be eaten up by the scourge in Enugu.'

Investigations revealed that the Taimako centre is assisted by the World Bank, with most of its funds sourced by the office of Nasarawa State First Lady, Hajiya Raliya Doma.

Though the cancer centre is a private initiative of the wife of the state governor, it is said to be a referral point for Nasarawa Specialist Hospital.

According to the Coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme of the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Patience Osinubi, breast cancer screening in the centre is done by clinical breast examinations and mammography.

She said, 'There are two mammography machines in that centre. That, alone, is a marvel.

'The pathology laboratory boasts of equipment not found even in some federal hospitals. Tumour specimens can be analysed and well reported on. There is a visiting pathologist who goes to the centre to read the slides.'

But to what extent can this centre cater for women who are not of the Northern extraction?

But some of the patients accused members of staff of the hospital of playing ethnic politics while treating patients

This could be confirmed in a statement made by Osinubi, albeit inadvertently, while listing the benefits of the centre recently to our correspondent.

'The centre is modest looking, very neat and clean, with new architectural design, recording an average of 45 to 50 patients daily. A total of 3,674 patients have been screened so far free of charge,' she explained.

Continuing, Osinubi said, 'It serves most women in the North Central zone. With a staff of about 20, it is very well equipped to serve its purpose of cancer screening services.'

But another woman and a resident of Enugu, Mrs. Chiazor Agu, blamed the tribal challenges affecting the country on the political crises and the high level of illiteracy.

Agu, however, said that if other centres such as the one in Taimako could rise up to the challenges of tackling cancer, it would not be long before the problem is eliminated.