Cancer care health experts have emphasized the need to increase the number of mental health staff and support groups for cancer patients to improve treatment outcomes.
At a Cancer Summit in Lagos, organized by a coalition of NGOs under the Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS), they collaborated with the Nigerian Medical Association Cancer Committee to broaden knowledge and bridge cancer care and management gaps.
The summit focused on “Building Strategic Frameworks For Strengthening Cancer Patient Support Groups” and “Breaking the Bad News in the African Region.”
Prof. Ifeoma Okoye, Professor of Radiology at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, stressed that a synergy between cancer patients and their caregivers is crucial to enhance health outcomes.
She added that support groups could help strengthen cancer patients’ coping strategies and alleviate feelings of isolation.
Dr. Denise Ejoh, Chief Executive Officer of Cormode Cancer Foundation, emphasized the importance of cancer support groups for every patient, saying they are vital in assisting patients post-diagnosis and understanding and preparing for their journey.
Dr. Elizabeth Akin-Odanye, President of the Psycho-Oncology Society of Nigeria, urged patients not to consider a cancer diagnosis a death sentence and to seek psychosocial support while following treatment.
Addressing the Need for Mental Health Support in Cancer Care
The recent Cancer Summit held in Lagos highlights an urgent issue that requires attention – increased mental health support and care for cancer patients.
The push for more mental health staff and support groups signifies a crucial step towards improving treatment outcomes for patients across Nigeria and the African region.
Cancer patients face numerous challenges, and the emotional and psychological impact of the diagnosis and treatment process can often be overlooked.
By emphasizing the importance of support groups, the summit has shed light on the need for a comprehensive approach to cancer care, encompassing physical and mental health.
Healthcare professionals must take the lead in providing appropriate mental health support.
Still, it is also the responsibility of the government, private sector, and NGOs to collaborate in expanding the Nigerian Cancer Health Fund (CHF) to make such support more accessible.
Nigeria must invest in mental health resources, establish more cancer support groups, and facilitate better communication between patients and their caregivers.
This multidisciplinary approach to cancer care ensures higher survival rates and better quality of life for those affected by this devastating disease.
The time for action is now.
Healthcare professionals, government bodies, and private organizations must join forces to create a comprehensive support network that addresses cancer patients’ emotional and psychological needs, providing hope, reassurance, and guidance on their journey to recovery.