The President, Transplant Association of Nigeria, Dr. Ayo Shonibare, has said about 160 kidney transplantation have been successfully performed in Nigeria.
He said this in a communiqué issued at the end of the first Scientific and Biennial General meeting of the organisation in Lagos.
Shonibare noted that though it was a positive development, majority of the transplantation were done in private hospitals in the country.
He, therefore, called on the Federal Government to provide transplant facilities in its health institutions.
He said organ transplantation was fast becoming a medical intervention that was only available for the rich, as most patients who needed it did not have the financial means to pay for it.
“The major challenge facing organ transplantation in Nigeria is huge cost of treatment, poor infrastructural and medical facilities, inadequate manpower and poverty which restricts affordability only to the rich who can afford the treatment,” he said.
According to him, there are increasing cases of patients with chronic organ damage, hence the need for government to not only equip its hospitals with facilities but also subsidise cost of treatment and drugs.
“A number of patients have lost their grafts due to the inability to maintain the costly immunosuppressive drugs. One of the measures to contain cost includes government subsidy and access to generic drugs,” he noted.
Shonibare identified shortage of organ donors due to cultural and religious beliefs as another factor that has frustrated transplantation in the country.
He called on government to enact health policies that would encourage people to direct their relations to donate their organs after their demise as being done in some advanced countries.
Shonibare said, “Living donors are the only ways for patients to get organs for transplantation and this is a major constraint to the surgery in Nigeria. Enacting enabling organ and tissue transplant law particularly for deceased organ donation would improve organ availability for the benefit of needy patients.”
He also canvassed for the speedy passage of the National Health Bill which advocates the inclusion of organ transplants treatment in the National Health Insurance Scheme and sanctions for persons involved in organ trafficking.