FG declares cancer as priority project in health sector

Gloria Essien, Abuja

The Nigerian Minister of the Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole has declared cancer as one of the priority project in the health sector.

Prof. Adewole made this statement on 4th February, 2016 during the commemoration of the 2016 World Cancer Day in Abuja.

He said that Federal Government has initiated a planning process that would culminate in the transformation of the National Cancer Control Programme into a National Agency.

He pointed out that the National Agency for Cancer Control would provide leadership and Technical direction for Cancer Control in Nigeria, adding that it would be a multidisciplinary centre involving all health care personnel, basic and social scientists including public health experts.

Professor Adewole emphasised that the Agency would focus on the following areas: Policy formulation, Advocacy and Mobilization, Centre of excellence for cancer prevention and care and Palliation.

“The Agency would drive a comprehensive cancer treatment, including palliative care, research and teaching whilst paying attention to the needs of the individual cancer patient.’’ he said.

He explained that the pivot of the cancer control would be health promotion and prevention from primary healthcare level, to achieve this, the ministry is working on strengthening primary Healthcare system across the nation including building a formidable workforce to provide essential outreach services which will include Health Promotion.

Prof. Adewole added that the One Primary Healthcare Centre Per Ward Initiative would also link up with Secondary and Tertiary care through strong Referral Systems.

Key Barriers

In his remark, the Minister of State for Health, Dr. Enahire Osagie, noted that over 60% of all cancer cases in Nigeria occur in women and are mainly due to Breast and Cervical Cancer.

Dr.Osagie pointed out that the key barriers to treatment of cancer in Nigeria include competing priorities for Government Attention, low Number of Skilled Health Care Personnel, Funding Gaps, Poor Infrastructure and lack of Awareness.

“Government plans to overcome these key challenges including the development of Public Private Partnerships strategies to address the funding gaps and manpower shortage”, he said.

In his welcome address, the Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, Runcie Chidebe, said that the World Cancer Day 2016 marks the beginning of a new three – year Campaign with the theme “We Can, I Can” it would explore what everyone as an individual or collectively would do to reduce the Global burden of cancer .

He said we all have the power to take various actions to reduce the impact that cancer has on Individuals, Families and Communities.

Globally, WHO estimated that there were 14.1 million new cancer cases, 8.2 million cancer deaths and 32.6 million people living with cancer worldwide and Nigeria has had a significant increase in the incidence of deaths from the common cancers within four years.

In 2008 breast cancer killed 30 Nigerian women daily; by 2012 this had risen to 40 women daily.

Due to a number of behavioural and dietary factors which have been the causes of most mortality, the World Cancer Report of 2014 revealed that new cancer cases are expected to rise to 22 million globally by the year 2022.

In Nigeria, in 2012, 102,100 new cases of cancer occurred.

This was estimated to be 16% of cancers in the Sub-saharan region. An estimated 60% occur in females and are predominantly breast and cervical cancers, while prostate cancers are more prevalent in men.