Cancer patients in Northern Ghana often reach the hospital in advanced stages, posing significant challenges for treatment.
The Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH) witnesses a high rate of cancer patients discontinuing treatment due to the overwhelming financial burden it imposes on both patients and their caregivers.
According to Dr. Abdul Rashid Timtoni, a medical oncologist at the Tamale Teaching Hospital (TTH), culturally and religiously influenced beliefs, combined with the use of herbal medicines, contribute to a high rate of treatment abandonment among cancer patients, tragically resulting in death.
He made this known to Citi News, during the inauguration of the Nelly Oncology Center, donated to the Tamale Teaching Hospital to serve cancer patients.
“Another stumbling block on the way of cancer treatment is our cultural and religious beliefs because people have different misconceptions about cancer, and they don’t come early because of that misconception about cancer and they don’t come early because of those misconceptions. Even people who start treatment along the way resort to herbal medication increasing the default risk in our patient delivery care. Another obstacle has to do with the distance because we have a lot of patients coming far away from Tamale, Upper East Region, Upper West Region even from Bono region.”
“So patients come and then possibly when you access they are not able to take the treatment, and they have to go back home and this has a lot of financial burdens and they become frustrated, and they finally default leading to high rates of deaths among cancer patients. Our facility sees a lot of cancer cases but the most we see here is breast cancer. So I encourage every woman if she notices a lump in her breast she should report to us early so that we can look for a cure,” Mr Timtoni stated.
The donor, Ellen Seldenthuis, herself a former cancer patient, passionately called upon the hospital to prioritize comprehensive psychological support for patients, helping them navigate the challenges of their treatment journey.
She further appealed to the hospital’s nursing staff, to cultivate a profound passion for their work and refrain from engaging in unrelated activities during their working hours.
“The nurses especially have to be trained more to give the care that is needed. What is very important is the passion, the passion that nurses should have for being a nurse. Stop watching your phone when you are working. Stop selling your own products, do it in your leisure time.”
“Don’t bring your products to the hospital trying to sell your things while you have your salary and you push the patients and your duties aside. That is what I have seen a lot… So nurses can be so much satisfied if they can do it with passion and love,” she said.