Gone are the days when women and men died from breast cancer in industrialized countries. Over time, medical scientists have been able to invent modern medical devices to diagnose and treat breast cancer. Cancer treatment machines are being modernized to make them more efficient. Developed countries have switched to using a fully robotic radiation therapy machine called the Cyberknife to target breast cancer and other cancers. This advanced technology in medicine has brought success stories into the lives of patients and survivors. There are cases of cancer survivors celebrating up to 30 years after surviving the disease.
Technology, according to Britannica, “is the application of scientific knowledge to the practical ends of human life, or, as it is sometimes formulated, to the modification and manipulation of the human environment”. Essentially, technology is life; it modifies and facilitates human activity. Technology has been used to facilitate human activities ranging from communication, education, transportation, medicine, etc. Insofar as people view technology as a great evil, it has, in a sense, given people a second chance at life.
To compare how modern technology works in the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer, there are more breast cancer survivors in developed countries because scientists keep making breakthroughs in medical science over time. Stage 4 breast cancer patients have opportunities to prolong and improve their quality of life because they have access to modern medical equipment. These medical technologies are accessible to all due to government intervention through insurance companies. Therefore, no one has an excuse not to seek treatment in the advanced countries.
African countries are starting to become aware of technological advancement and this advancement is noticeable in Nigeria, but the main focus has been solely on information technology and financial technology. Despite the fact that information technology is bringing the world closer, we also need to invest in technological advances in medicine. Even after surviving for seven years, I still can’t believe Nigeria has only one PETSCAN machine, mostly owned by an Indian diagnostic center. The PETSCAN device is a medical device that detects the smallest diseases in the body. We should have at least six; one in each geopolitical zone of the country. There is no need to blame individuals who are not interested in investing in PETSCAN and other advanced medical technology because they need an adequate power supply, which is still a long way off in Nigeria. Hence, the technological advancement of medicine cannot thrive in Nigeria.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in Nigeria. There are many breast cancer survivors who die carefree because they don’t have access to well-equipped diagnostic centers, and they are also tested in outdated medical equipment even though they pay a lot of money for these equipments; which explains why the breast cancer survival rate in Nigeria is still staggering. Unfortunately, breast cancer patients who have lost their lives are mostly the country’s workforce. In developed countries, you will find many breast cancer patients who are still productive and have a positive impact on their country’s economic growth. If agile women are crushed by breast cancer due to a lack of well-resourced medical facilities, the country will suffer the loss of those who would have made a positive contribution to the economy.
With the general election fast approaching, I will advise that anyone who becomes the next President of Nigeria should focus on or rethink technological advances in medicine by putting in place policies and structures that encourage that advance. It is also affordable and accessible for the average Nigerian. To date, the only PETSCAN machine is not affordable even for a working class person like me due for one. Also, the next government should scrutinize diagnostic centers for the quality of the technology they use, so diagnostic center owners don’t keep buying outdated and no longer useful testing machines into the country to test innocent Nigerians. Health should not be a luxury in Nigeria. It should be a necessity that is affordable.
Fakiyesi, a double cancer survivor, can be reached at [email protected]