The Federal Government and other stakeholders have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to address what they referred to as the acute cancer burden in Abuja.
Chief Executive Officer of City Cancer Challenge Foundation (C/Can),
Isabel Mestres announced the development in a statement issued on Thursday, August 3, 2023.
Mestres said the MoU was signed by the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Clinton Health Access Initiative, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, and City Cancer Challenge Foundation (C/Can).
She clarified that, though the MoU was signed by all the parties in May, the final ratification was made on Thursday in Abuja.
According to her, cancer is responsible for 79,000 deaths and approximately 124,000 new cases in Nigeria each year, accounting for the second-highest cancer burden in Africa.
She also said that the multi-stakeholder commitment by national and sub-national governments, international health organisations, and civil society represented a key milestone in Nigeria’s ongoing efforts against cancer.
The Chief Executive Officer said that to ensure the success of the C/Can initiative, Abuja had over the last two years conducted assessments to inform the development of a strategy to implement the project.
Mestres, who said progress had already been made, added that throughout 2022, with the support of C/Can, Abuja had undertaken a robust due diligence process.
“This has provided a comprehensive understanding of the local cancer care landscape, paving the way for the next steps, including the launch of a three-year City Engagement Process.
“The C/Can City Engagement Process will be led by a local governance body, the City Executive Committee with the support of a dedicated city manager, to engage stakeholders in identifying needs and implementing locally-created cancer care solutions,” she said.
The Chief Executive Officer further said that through C/Can, there was an unparalleled opportunity to ensure that progress made in cancer care at a city level would benefit people in Abuja and the entire Nigeria.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Mr. Funso Adebiyi, said that the collective effort strengthened the ministry’s commitment to foster a healthier Nigeria by urgently reducing the country’s cancer incidence and mortality.
“Guided by the principle that cities are crucial to driving meaningful change through local engagement and global partnerships, the C/Can initiative supports cities to develop data-driven, locally relevant, and sustainable cancer care solutions”, she said.
Malam Mohammed Bello, Former FCTA Minister, said that given Nigeria’s sizable population within the region, Abuja’s partnership with C/Can carried immense potential for a broad-scale impact on its health systems and the health of its population.
The CEO, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, said though a lot could be achieved individually, there was more strength in collective efforts.
“Alone, we can do a lot. However, as partners, we can strengthen Abuja’s cancer ecosystem. I am certain that this partnership with C/Can will achieve the much-needed transformation.”
Also, Owens Wiwa, Executive Vice President, Clinton Health Access Initiative, Nigeria, said that the organisation would bring its global health expertise and on-the-ground experience to ensure the continuity of local solutions.
The statement noted that Abuja’s successful application to join C/Can is supported by FCTA and the Federal Ministry of Health, led by a task force of leading organisations, including civil society.
It added that Abuja was the 14th city and the fourth African city to join the growing C/Can network alongside Kumasi, Ghana; Kigali, Rwanda and Nairobi in Kenya.