The Transplantation Association of Nigeria said lack of funding and shortage of donor organs are challenges militating against the growth of the transplantation industry in the country.
The association made this known on Tuesday at its fifth biennial scientific conference with the theme ‘Advancing organ transplantation in Nigeria: The journey so far’, in Abuja.
The experts, however, urged the Federal Government to regulate the donation of organs to boost organ donation, transplantation, as well as reduce mortality and curb medical tourism.
The President of TAN, Professor Fatiu Arogundade said organ transplantation has improved, particularly with kidney and cornea transplantation.
He, however, said bone marrow transplantation has not grown much, while liver transplantation is still non-existent in Nigeria.
There is no gainsaying in the fact that the new National Health Bill that was passed into law needs to be vigorously pursued to see to its practicability and actualisation. We need to be able to network with major stakeholders locally and internationally to ensure its realisation particularly that aspect of deceased donation.
There are major challenges such as funding of transplantation, organ sourcing, and infrastructure development. The challenge of funding can be handled by the government because we believe that the encompassing National Health Insurance package that will take care of renal disease patients can take care of transplantation.”
Arogundade said there is a need for stakeholders to be involved in ensuring organ harvesting from willing donors.
The structure has to be put in place for us to organise the deceased donation. If we overcome the problem of funding and organ sourcing, infrastructural challenges will be surmounted,” he added.
The Chief Medical Director, Zenith Medical and Kidney Centre, and Chairperson, Local Organising Committee of the conference, Dr. Olalekan Olatise said there is a need for more sensitization, awareness, and advocacy on organ transplantation.
Nigerians need to know that they can have their transplant done in Nigeria, following all the ethics of transplantation and making sure both the recipients and donors know exactly what they are going to do and taking all the necessary precautions.
Like all over the world, there is a scarcity of organ donation, and Nigeria is no different. Deceased organ donation is still scarce. People are not signing to allow the necessary institutions or organisations to retrieve their organs after death, especially in the black community.
We want the government to intervene in funding. We need legislative backing. We need to have laws in place to ensure that transplantation is done in a safe environment following all the ethics and rules and making sure we follow best practices. So, there will be a need for the National Assembly to put some right laws in place in Nigeria. We have the National Health Act 2014, and we think some gaps can be improved.”
Also, a renowned Professor of Nephrology, Adewale Akinsola, said there is a need to enhance public access to organ transplantation.
There must be a health insurance scheme to cover high-fee medical care. For now, no insurance company that covers transplantation or dialysis for as long as you need it.
There has to be a social security system and scheme; we have to invest more in health resources through government funding,” Akinsola said.
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