In OAUTH, a leukaemia centre provides care and hope
Amaka Etiku is a Leukaemia patient and she has been battling the disease for the past 13 years. Amaka lives in Lagos but she has been a regular face at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital in Ile-Ife since 2004. She must visit the hospital at a regular interval to collect her drugs to stay alive. She gets the drugs free of charge in spite of the high cost of the drugs.
“The doctors here are excellent and they are taking good care of me and other patients. We get the drugs free of charge because they were donated by a nongovernmental organization -Max Foundation. The drugs are not available off the counter,” Amaka told Daily Trust.
Amaka added, “The name of the drug I’m using is Glivec. I must use four tablets daily. I consume one pack in a month and it costs between N600,000 and N700,000. Where would I get such money to spend on drugs? I’m alive because I’m getting the drug free. So, despite the pain, I’m happy that I can get the drug free.”
Salisu Abdalahi is another Leukaemia patient. His situation has degenerated and he can no longer hear because the disease has affected his ear. His brother, Awal Abdalahi brought him to OAUTH Ife from Kano State. Awal was very delighted that he could get the drugs for Salisu free of charge but the pains of moving his brother from Kano to Ife would not vanish from their memory as he narrated his travail on the way.
“We came from Kano. I brought my brother, Salisu, who is suffering from Leukaemia. We were referred to OAUTH Ife from Aminu Kano General Hospital because they said the drugs he needs are only available in OAUTH. The drug is N700,000 but we are getting it free. This gesture has saved many lives. We experienced serious difficulties in bringing him here but at least we are glad that we got the drugs.”
Like Amaka and Salisu, there are over 1,000 Leukaemia patients receiving treatment at the OAUTH Ife who must take some very expensive drugs such as Imatinib (Glivec) Nilotinib (Tasigna)/Dasatinib (Sutent) or Bosutini (Bosulif ) depending on the stage of the disease in the blood. They get the drugs free because it was donated by a nongovernmental organization, Max Foundation, based in the United States of America.
Dr Rahaman Bolarinwa, a Consultant Haematologist is the Head of Department of Haematology at the OAUTH Ife, where patients with issues relating to blood disorder are diagnosed, treated, managed and monitored.
Bolarinwa said, “For the treatment of Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia, (CML) OAUTH has relative advantage. The drugs for the treatment of this CML are only available here in this hospital free of charge. Also, OAUTH is equipped with necessary facilities for the diagnosis and monitoring of the patients with these disorders. These gave us the advantage over other tertiary health institutions in the country.”
He explained that CML is a blood cancer and that it may take some time before the patient would get to know about it. According to him, “Most of our patients are usually picked up at a later stage in the development of the disease because in Nigeria, we do not have the habit of routine medical checkup. The detection of CML is by doing routine checkup. It is possible to detect it earlier because CML comes in three phases.”
Bolarinwa said, “The first phase is the early stage known as chronic phase in which the patient may not know anything because there may be no significant symptom except that the blood count is high. The second phase is known as accelerated phase in which there would be escalation of the initial symptoms. The patient can come with blindness and hearing loss. This may occur as a result of the blockage of the small vessels
Admin block of OAUTH
Abdullahi, Leukaemia patient from Kano
Amaka, Leukaemia patient from Lagos