According to the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), Nigeria witnesses an annual record of more than 120,000 newly reported cancer cases. Prof. Usman Malami Aliyu, the Director General of the Institute, during the 7th Annual Conference of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) in Akwanga, Nasarawa State, shared that NICRAT is committed to collaborating with various stakeholders to combat the dire disease in Nigeria. Their approach will involve creating awareness, enhancing treatment accessibility, and advancing research efforts.
Also, he lamented the distressing figures of occurrences and fatalities caused by the illness. Elaborating further, he shared that every effort was being made by his establishment to put a stop to the spread of the disease within the nation. Malam Hassan Zaggi represented the NICRAT boss at the ANHEJ conference, which was conducted in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO). Aliyu elucidated that the institute had devised a comprehensive plan to bolster the number of professionals in the field of cancer. This would be achieved through the rigorous training and retraining of various categories of healthcare personnel across the nation.
Over 78,000 individuals lost their lives to the disease.
He stated that the available statistics for the year 2020 revealed a shocking figure of over 78,000 individuals who lost their lives due to complications arising from cancer. The data further highlighted that out of this considerable number, 44,699 were females, while 34,200 were males. Armed with these distressing numbers, NICRAT has committed itself to collaborating with various pertinent parties to combat the prevalence of cancer in Nigeria. Their strategy also involves raising knowledge about the disease through extensive awareness campaigns and enhancing accessibility to treatment and research facilities.
In order to significantly boost the number of experts in the nation, a comprehensive plan has been devised to provide training and retraining opportunities for healthcare professionals across all fields. Three pivotal documents were recently introduced, demonstrating unwavering dedication and readiness to combat various types and ensure optimal care and support for those affected. The records encompass three significant papers: The National Strategic Cancer Control Plan 2023-2027; National Cancer Research Agenda 2024-2027, and the National Strategic Plan for Prevention of Cancer of Uterine Cervix 2023-2027.
The Institute’s capacity to be enhanced to address the disease challenges.
Explaining further, he said the Ministry of Health’s current leadership is dedicated to enhancing the health of every Nigerian. To achieve this goal, they have identified key areas of focus in their documents, such as governance, prevention, supply chain management, data and research, and surveillance. In acknowledgement of President Bola Tinubu-led administration’s remarkable commitment to disease care, he expressed appreciation, stating this dedication was evidenced by the recent transfer of the Cancer Trust Fund from the Federal Ministry of Health to NICRAT.
Moreso, he remarked that this would lead to significant enhancements in the Institute’s functioning, enabling it to address all challenges associated with the disease effectively. The NICRAT Director General emphasised their relentless dedication to uniting key figures in the battle against cancer. In over nine months since assuming the role, significant strides have been taken to establish a robust framework for Nigeria. These efforts aim to elevate the nation to the ranks of countries equipped with comprehensive capabilities to manage, prevent, cure, and explore the disease.
Alliances and partnerships should be formed amongst the stakeholders.
Over the past few months, a collaborative effort has been initiated to address its care and treatment, recognising the significance of a comprehensive approach that involves multiple dimensions and sectors. Strategic partnerships and alliances have been established with key government agencies such as the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA), as well as various Civil Society Organisations actively involved in cancer-related initiatives. This collective endeavour will significantly diminish the prevalence of this devastating disease.