FG Launches Three Policy Documents To Reduce Cancer Prevalence

The Federal Government has introduced three policy documents to help mitigate cancer prevalence in the country.

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The documents were launched by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Tunji Alausa on Monday, October 23, 2023, at the opening ceremony of this year’s International Cancer Week (ICW) in Abuja.

Alausa said that the three documents namely; National Strategic Cancer Control Plan 2023-2027, National Cancer Research Agenda 2024-2027, and National Strategic Plan for Prevention of Cancer of Uterine Cervix 2023-2027 had priority areas of action that address governance, prevention, supply chain management, data and research as well as surveillance.

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He said that it was no longer news that cancer had become a leading cause of death worldwide including Nigeria. Also, low and middle-income countries accounted for 51 per cent of all cancers worldwide in 1975 and the proportion increased to 55 per cent in 2007 and to 70 per cent in 2018.

“The rise in incidence of cancers is even worse with breast cancer which is the main focus of the October Cancer Awareness activities. Breast Cancer has remained the commonest cancer in Nigeria for a long time now and the incidence is still on the increase.

“This is followed by cervical and prostate cancers. Childhood cancers especially haematological cancers and retinoblastoma are also increasing daily”, he added.

The Minister further disclosed that the gory statistics showed that cancer had become an emerging disease in Nigeria and of serious public health concern.

This, he said, informed the resolve of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to take the leadership role and harness all available material and human resources within its domain to disrupt the pattern from gaining grounds or becoming established.

On his part, Senate Committee Chairman on Health of the Ninth National Assembly, Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, averred that the National Assembly was committed to ensuring that the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) was beefed up to meet the care needs of indigent cancer patients.

According to him, N750 million was budgeted for the fund in the 2020 Appropriation Act, to take care of breast, cervical, and prostate cancers which based on statistics a
were prevalent in Nigeria.

Oloriegbe further explained that the fund as labelled in the appropriation was supposed to be a counterpart of government with a Public-Private Partnership arrangement.

“The appropriation was reduced to N250 million the following year and in 2023 it came down to N150 million. Recently we had a meeting to talk about the implementation of that fund for more effectiveness and efficiency and we the parliamentarians are committed to increasing it to one billion naira in the 2024 budget.

“We will also establish a childhood cancer care fund of N500 million”, he added.

Meanwhile, the Director-General, National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), Dr. Usman Aliyu,
said that the National Cancer Research Agenda serves as a roadmap for collective efforts, bringing together the best minds in the field and harnessing the power of research to make a meaningful difference in the lives of cancer patients.

He added that the agenda was centred on prevention and early detection, diagnosis and treatment, support and care as well as research and innovation.

Similarly, Dr. Aliyu informed that the National Strategic Cancer Control Plan and the National Strategic Plan for the Prevention of Cancer of the uterine cervix were products of previous plans from the Federal Ministry of Health.

The NICRAT Boss further hinted that it was his intention to ensure that Nigerians aligned with the National Health Development Plan as well as the global strategy for the elimination of cancer of the uterine cervix by the year 2030.

Also speaking at the event, the Regional Director for Africa and Europe, City Cancer Challenge (C/Can), Sophie Bussman-Kemdjo, said that the theme of the week was a powerful call to action on the disparity in care for cancer.

Ms Bussman-Kemdjo explained that the C/Can initiative was aimed at supporting cities around the world as they work to improve access to equitable, quality cancer care.

The theme of the 2023 ICW is, “Addressing Cancer Care Disparities through Improved Access to Research and Treatment”.

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