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TAF Raises Alarm On the Rate of Skin Cancer Cases In Nigeria, Calls for Govt Revival of free Skin Cancer treatment programme

The Albino Foundation raised alarm at rate of skin cancer cases being recorded among Persons with Albinism(PWA) in Nigeria.

The CEO/founder, TAF and the President of Albinism Association of Nigeria, Jake Epelle disclosed this during a press conference organized by TAF on Thursday in Abuja on the Upsurge in Skin Cancer Cases Among Persons with Albinism (PWAs) in Nigeria and Clarifications on TAF’s Past and Ongoing Efforts.

He said that TAF would not be able to exhaust its past advocacy efforts in one meeting, but the most significant amongst them is the free skin cancer treatment scheme which the Foundation secured during the administration of former President, Olusegun Obasanjo.

He informed that the scheme was funded by the government through disbursement of funds by the Federal Ministry of Finance to the six (6) designated hospitals in Nigeria’s geopolitical zones (especially the National Hospital, Abuja).

He cleared that No part of this arrangement involved any kind of financial benefit to TAF as an organization.

He also said that TAF did not at any point receive funds before, during or after the scheme, saying that their role was to recommend PWA who were in need of treatment or check-up to the designated hospitals.

“These recommendations/ referrals at about 5,500 were documented and although we lost some documents when we changed office in 2020, we have archived most of them in the folders which are here in this Conference Room” he displayed some of the documents.

He urged the journalists to approach the National Hospital, Abuja to corroborated his claim saying that these facts are verifiable by the National Hospital, Abuja, the Federal Ministry of Finance, and other designated hospitals.

He informed that these were carried out at zero cost to PWAs, then he expressed gratitude to the government and the designated hospitals for this initiative through which the lives of several PWAs were preserved.

Mr. Epelle said that in Africa, only Nigeria and Kenya have enjoyed this sort of intervention.

He also thanked the state governments such as Kebbi and Ekiti States who have identified with their cause and shown support.

“Many of these states have given us offices for our activities”.

“In addition to the free skin cancer treatment scheme, TAF has in the past mobilized for the treatment of PWAs within and outside Nigeria, worth millions of dollars”. A claim that was substantiated by a beneficiary who joined the press conference via zoom, Ibituro Green who said that TAF was very helpful to her when she received her skin cancer treatment abroad. She received her treatment abroad free of charge.  

“No matter the impact, no visionary organization is satisfied to dwell in the milestones of the past. This is our disposition, and so we are unrelenting in our efforts to revive the free skin cancer treatment scheme. To this end, we have continued to engage the relevant stakeholders of government to resolve the hitches of the past, and fully resume this scheme as quickly as possible. We have also engaged in media advocacy campaigns to generate broad-based attention and intervention” he added.

He regretted some assertion from some individuals that government have not treated PWDs, he described it as malicious for anybody to embark on the ill-fated voyage of discrediting TAF, the Albinism Association of Nigeria (AAN), the government and other stakeholders with regards to the free cancer treatment scheme.

Even though he was not able to provide the exact number of PWA that has been treated, he insisted that it would be unfair to say that PWA have not been treated for free by Federal Government.

He explained that the process was for PWA who was affected by skin cancer to reach out to TAF and a referral letter would be issued to the person to go to the hospital.

He also said that it is important to note that TAF were not responsible for their accommodation, any PWA would be coming for the treatment would take care of accommodation because TAF didn’t have any fund for accommodation.

He urged the media to check the facts from the sources TAF have cited and desist from their ill-advised actions and utterances

He advised PWA to protect their skin from excessive exposure of the sun and always report their cases of cancer earlier in order to get help earlier because a lot of PWA died because they reported their cases when they were no much time for their lives to be saved.

Ms Nonye Ogbuagu, the Assistant Coordinator of the foundation in Enugu, also confirmed that they have made some referral from Enugu for the treatment of PWAs with skin cancer.

Pastor Bassey Mbah, the Coordinator of TAF in Cross River, said that all the referral from them were not able to live to tell their story.

He advised that it is imperative of early reporting of the cases for timely treatment of skin cancer to avoid high mortality rates.

Mbah called on TAF members to always report for treatment early whenever they referred if the scheme comes back.

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