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Senate resolves cancer treatment licence fee row

The Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Authority has reverted to the N250,000 licence fee for cancer hospitals in the country after about four months stand-off between the agency and two prominent hospitals.

The PUNCH, in its special report on the issue, revealed that NNRA jerked the cost of the licence for radio-active materials used in the treatment of cancer patients in Nigeria to N2m in December 2013.

This resulted in the inability of the nuclear medicine departments of the University College Hospital, Ibadan, and National Hospital, Abuja, to treat patients as they could not afford the new fee.

Many of the patients died during the period while many others, whose treatments were halted, suffered relapses.

Both hospitals were established by the International Atomic Energy Agency based in Vienna Austria to offer modern treatment to cancer patients with permission granted by the Federal Government.

National Coordinator of Nuclear Medicine in Nigeria and Head of the Nuclear Medicine Department, UCH, Prof Bola Osifo, told our correspondent on Friday that the Senate intervened in the matter and compelled NNRA to revert to the old licence fee.

She said, “After the PUNCH story was published, the Senate expressed its unhappiness at the way NNRA Acting Director General, Dr. Marin Ogharandukun, handled the case. The house Committee on Health discussed the matter and Senate President David Mark also wrote Ogharandukun after discussing it during a plenary, but there was no response.

“This led to the invitation of the coordinator of the Abuja hospital, Dr. Zabah Jawa, who told them the plight of the two cancer hospitals and the patients since December. He also led the members of the Senate Committee on Health to NNRA office, where Ogharandukun was questioned on reasons for the sudden increase of 700 per cent for the licence.”

Osifo said it was later resolved that the organisation should desist from any act that would jeopardise the functions of the nuclear medicine departments of the two hospitals and go back to the old fee.

She however warned that full operations would not resume until after Easter because of the processes involved in the importation of the radio-active materials used in the treatment of cancer.

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