Federal Government Unveils Three Groundbreaking Policies to Combat Cancer in Nigeria. In a monumental step towards curbing the prevalence of cancer in Nigeria, the Federal Government has introduced three pivotal policy documents. The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa, inaugurated these documents at the commencement of the 2023 International Cancer Week (ICW) in Abuja.

Themed “Addressing Cancer Care Disparities through Improved Access to Research and Treatment,” the ICW sets the stage for a comprehensive approach to tackling this pressing health issue.

  1. National Strategic Cancer Control Plan 2023-2027
  2. National Cancer Research Agenda 2024-2027
  3. National Strategic Plan for Prevention of Cancer of Uterine Cervix 2023-2027

Dr. Alausa emphasized that these documents outline priority areas of action, encompassing governance, prevention, supply chain management, data and research, as well as surveillance. He underscored the alarming global shift in predominant cancer types, particularly in developing nations.

Breast cancer, a focal point of October’s Cancer Awareness activities, remains the most prevalent form in Nigeria. Cervical and prostate cancers follow closely behind, with childhood cancers also witnessing an alarming rise.

The Minister highlighted that these disconcerting statistics underscore the emergence of cancer as a significant public health concern in Nigeria. This propelled the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to take decisive action to disrupt its advance.

Sen. Ibrahim Oloriegbe reaffirmed the National Assembly’s commitment to bolstering the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) to meet the needs of indigent cancer patients. Noting the decrease in budgetary allocation for the fund in recent years, he pledged to increase it to one billion naira in the 2024 budget, alongside the establishment of a childhood cancer care fund.

Dr. Usman Aliyu, Director-General of the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), elaborated on the significance of the National Cancer Research Agenda. This agenda serves as a roadmap for collaborative efforts, uniting experts in the field to make a meaningful impact on the lives of cancer patients.

Aliyu emphasized that the agenda’s focal points encompass prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, support and care, as well as research and innovation. Through research in these areas, the aim is to develop effective preventive strategies, enhance treatment options, and provide better support for patients and survivors.Collaboration and partnership were identified as crucial elements for achieving these goals.

Sophie Bussman-Kemdjo, Regional Director for Africa and Europe at City Cancer Challenge (C/Can), addressed the week’s theme, emphasizing its importance in addressing disparities in cancer care. She shed light on the C/Can initiative, which is dedicated to enhancing access to quality cancer care globally, especially in resource-constrained regions.

In Abuja, the C/Can initiative is working to comprehensively analyze the city’s cancer care landscape to identify critical areas for strengthening and inform a city-wide strategy.

The introduction of these policy documents marks a significant milestone in the fight against cancer in Nigeria, signifying a united front in addressing this pressing health challenge. The comprehensive approach outlined in these documents promises a brighter future for cancer care in the country.