New Telegraph

Nigeria Deepens Fight Against Cancer As WHO Reviews GICC Request

The Federal Government has continued to show commitment to addressing and controlling the challenge of cancer, by improving the quality of life of cancer patients and advancing and increasing investments in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and research.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa spoke on Tuesday at a briefing to commemorate the 2024 World Cancer Day in Abuja, with the theme of the 2024 World Cancer Day ‘Closing the Cancer Care Gap’ with emphasis on “Together, we can challenge those in power,” disclosed that several measures were being adopted to address the rising cost of drugs and medical consumables.

He said: “Equally we have taken several steps to address cancer challenges in the country among them are; Primary prevention through vaccination, early detection, prompt treatment and Research. The Ministry through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) is leading the Human Papillomavirus vaccination for the primary prevention of cancer of the Cervix, as well as the Hepatitis immunization for the prevention of liver cancers. Cervical and liver cancers happen to be the second and the fourth most common cancers in Nigeria respectively.

“We have just recently moved the Cancer Health Fund that is coordinated and housed in the Ministry NICRAT to provide prompt and unhindered access to the Cancer Health Fund to the indigent Nigeria who need this for efficiency, particularly timeliness and sustainability. The Ministry will continue to provide its oversight and policy direction for the fund.

“The National Health Insurance Authority Act 2022 has made Health Insurance mandatory for all Nigerians. We have also provided strategic guidance for NHIA to enrol all Nigerians including cancer patients into health insurance. This will go a long way in reducing the cost of cancer care in the country.

“The NHIA will ultimately manage funding for cancer care in the future, to avoid duplication of roles in terms of purchase of services for all patients. Recently, the operational guideline of the NHIA Act was launched to pave the way for the full operationalization of the Act, which also provides Funding for vulnerable Nigerians including cancer patients.

“To improve access to cancer care services, the Government is establishing 6 new Cancer Centres of Excellence in the following Hospitals – UNTH Enugu (South-East), ABUTH Zaria, FTH Katsina (North-West), UBTH Benin (South-South), JUTH Jos (North Central), and LUTH, Lagos (South West), while UMTH Maiduguri is being upgraded (North-East) across the 6 geopolitical zones country with brachytherapy machines and other equipment.

“We are currently implementing the National Policy on Hospice and Palliative Care and the National Policy on Chemotherapy Safety which were launched in 2021.

“This year is the midterm of their implementation. The Ministry will take steps to review the level of implementation of the 2 policy documents with the view to ensuring optimal uptake by the Healthcare providers across the country.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Country Representative to Nigeria, Dr. Walter Kazadi Mulombo, commended the government of Nigeria for its commitment towards cancer control visible in several initiatives including the nationwide HPV vaccination to reach about 60% of the priority population, and the inclusion of cancer screening and treatment in the Health Sector Renewed Program through a wide Approach.

Mulombo further revealed that “Globally, to close the care gap, WHO is supporting several initiatives including the Global Initiative for Childhood Cancer (GICC), Cervical Cancer Elimination Initiative and the Global Breast Cancer Initiative.

“Taken the three initiatives together, these interventions can reduce the generational harm from cancer and save more than a million lives in the next ten years.

“I am delighted that Nigeria expressed interest to join GICC. We are processing this request.”

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