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Cancer patients suffer as import duties drive up drug costs- BCI calls for Support

Breast Care International (BCI) has raised concerns about the high costs of cancer drugs in Ghana, attributing the issue to exorbitant import duties

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Breast Care International (BCI) has raised concerns about the high costs of cancer drugs in Ghana, attributing the issue to exorbitant import duties.

The organization highlighted the impact of these expenses on patients, with many unable to afford the necessary medication.

Data from the Ghana Health Service reveals that over 24,000 new cases of cancer are reported annually in Ghana, with 15,802 deaths recorded in 2020.

Notably, the most prevalent cancers in Ghana include breast cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, and liver cancer.

During a ceremony at the Straightway Chapel International in Kumasi to mark World Cancer Day on February 4, 2024, Dr. Beatrice Wiafe Addai, President of BCI, emphasized the dire consequences of the high cost of medication, citing it as a significant factor contributing to the loss of thousands of lives each year.

Dr. Wiafe urged for the removal of import duties on cancer drugs, advocating for a waiver on such medications entering the country.

“The duties on cancer drugs should be removed, and any drug that is entering the country which is supposed to be used for cancer treatment then the shouldn’t be any duty,” she noted.

Dr. Wiafe further stated that government should also consider lifting duties on donated drugs and other medical supplies meant for health institutions.

“Why should we pay duties on donated drugs when we intend donating to our clinics and hospitals?” She questioned.

Dr. Beatrice Wiafe Addai further stressed the importance of incorporating cancer education into the training of nursing students, advocating for comprehensive training to equip them with the necessary skills to handle cancer cases professionally.

Addressing the issue, Ashanti Regional Minister Simon Osei Mensah noted that while the Finance Ministry and the government grant tax waivers on medical supplies, some organizations have been found to sell these supplies on the open market, leading to a loss of revenue for the state.

He noted that due to the situation, it will be difficult for government to grant a waiver to any institution without knowing the purpose of the initiative and the facilities that will benefit for proper monitoring purposes.

The Minister also urged the public to prioritize early cancer screening to mitigate the impact of the disease in the country.

Rev. Dr. Ahmed Adjei, General Overseer of the Straightway Chapel International, commended BCI for its dedication to fighting cancer.

He encouraged fellow pastors to refrain from camping their members hoping to treat them using only prayers, stating that such a manner can worsen the conditions of some patients.

Source: Fatawu Bayaga, Ashanti Regional Content Manager.

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