To improve access to quality healthcare for breast cancer patients in Nigeria, Pfizer has installed a telemedicine centre at the National Hospital, Abuja.
In a statement after the launch at the weekend, Medical Director East and West Africa, Pfizer, Dr. Kodjo Soroh, explained that oncology remains a key therapeutic area for the company, bent on achieving medical breakthroughs.
He said with the paucity of professionals, worsened by brain drain, the few available oncologists needed telemedicine to provide care to citizens irrespective of locations.
Soroh noted that the lack of awareness and access to treatment centres for mostly rural dwellers make telemedicine innovation a bridge that can close the gap in education, diagnosis and management of breast cancer in West African nations.
According to him, inaugurating the centre is an opportunity to reaffirm Pfizer’s commitment to changing lives of patients and dismantling barriers to equitable care and beyond.
He said the pharmaceutical firm has supported patients and the breast cancer community for more than 20 years with clear goals, including powering more treatment options and breakthroughs.
Chief Medical Director, National Hospital, Abuja, Dr. Mohammad Raji Mahmoud, noted that less than 15 oncology centres are catering for cancer patients nationwide.
Of the number, Mahmoud said only five have radiotherapy machines, which interestingly, are owned by government.
He added that out of the five, the machines at National Hospital Abuja are the ones currently functioning, adding that radiation therapy is an essential component of breast cancer treatment.
The medic regretted that in a populated country like Nigeria, access to cancer care is limited.
His words: “This telemedicine centre by Pfizer will greatly address the gap being experienced by underserved and hard-to-reach patients, as it removes barriers that stand in the way of their care.
“The platform will create awareness on breast cancer and eliminate barriers to early diagnosis and treatment, as it will serve as a medium for training and interaction between rural healthcare workers in primary healthcare centres and oncologists.
“This will significantly improve breast cancer care by serving as a forum for MDT approach (virtual turmour board) by different specialists involved in breast cancer management.”