Cancer Patient and Access to Radiotherapy – Is it Better to be a Dog in US than Human in Nigeria?
Sequel to the tweet of an American Venture Capitalist – Sean Murphy, saying that “there were far treating US pets than Nigerian people” with a pic showing a dog using a type of radiotherapy machine, several Nigerians agreed with Murphy that “a dog in the US is more likely to receive radiotherapy than a person in Nigeria”.
So a dog with lymphoma in Miami has a better chance of getting treatment than a woman with a brain tumor in Lagos. Shame! https://t.co/xmO8vShUge— Sean Murphy (@africafeed) September 22, 2017
Sean said this meant that a dog in Miami, United State is more to get cancer radiotherapy treatment than a woman in Lagos, Nigeria. This didn’t shock many Nigerians – but it stirred their anger against the governance and state of health services in Nigeria.
One Chidiebere Enyidu tweeted that “Nigeria health care system is not better than abandoned veterinary clinic”.
Nigeria health care system is not better than abandoned vertinary clinic.— Chidiebere Enyidu (@checenyidu) October 2, 2017
What a shame.
Another Nigerian, Dr. Obinna Ebirim tweeted, “What a painful but realistic description of the status of health care delivery in Nigeria especially for cancer patients”.
Is this claim true?
Do US dogs with cancer have better access to radiotherapy treatment than Nigerian cancer patients?
The Directory of Radiotherapy Centres (DIRAC), an arm of International Atomic Energy Agency, who recently compiled data about radiotherapy facilities in Nigeria, gives the situation of radiotherapy in Nigeria with a picture worse than the one painted by Mr. Sean Murphy.
DIREC says not all the eight radiotherapy machines in Nigeria are working. Just three are currently in working condition and none of them is advanced like Linear Accelerator mentioned in Sean’s tweet.
The directory says the only Linear Accelerator radiotherapy machine in Nigeria is still under construction in one hospital at Abuja. All the four machine are in government, public hospitals.
Data about the number of cancer-treating machines in private hospitals is not available but a newspaper reported that securing treatment at these hospital are too expensive for Nigerian masses.
Once the all the four machines are functioning and with population of about 190 million, there will be one working radiotherapy machine to every 47.5 million Nigerians. Even if all the 8 are working, the ratio of radiotherapy machines to Nigerians is 1 to 23.3 million.
So how does this compare to American dogs?
According to American Veterinary Cancer Society, there are over 76 Linear Accelerators – advanced radiotherapy machines, in US available for dogs and cats. The society reports that there are 65 million dogs and 32 million cats in US.All together 98 million domestic canines have 76 advanced radiotherapy available for them. Dogs and cats are alike in many aspects and both can use the machines.
Therefore we can say there are:
1 radiotherapy machine to 1.28 million US dogs and cats.
1 radiotherapy machine to 47.5 million Nigerians.
Just comparing the number of population with number of machines is not a proper judgment of this case. This is because US pets are more likely to get cancer than Nigerians.
About 12 million dogs and cats get cancer each year in the United States of America – that means there’s a radiotherapy machine for every 158,000 dogs and cats with cancer.
The World Health Organization‘s latest data say 102,100 people in Nigeria were diagnosed with cancer in 2012. That means a radiotherapy machine for every 25,500 people with cancer. That’s a lot fewer per machine.
1 radiotherapy machine to 158,000 US dogs and cats.
1 radiotherapy machine to 25,500 Nigerians.
Though cost of treatment debars more Nigerians from getting access to radiotherapy than US dogs and cats.
What is your view? Give your comment below!