Director General of the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), Prof. Usman Malami Aliyu, has disclosed that the Institute is determined to disrupt cancer in Nigeria through intense awareness creation and improved access to treatment and research.
He disclosed this at the 7th Annual Conference of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ), organised in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO), in Akwanga, Nasarawa State.
Prof. Malami regretted that statistics of cancer incidences and deaths occasioned by the disease are alarming, hence, the institute was doing everything possible to halt the disease in the country.
Malam Hassan Zaggi, who represented NICRAT’s Director General, revealed that the institute had mapped out strategies to increase experts in the area of cancer through the training and retraining of different categories of health workers in the country.
He referred to the statistics that indicated that in 2020, an estimated 78,000 people died as a result of cancer-related complications. “Out of this number, 44,699 were females while 34,200 were males. It is estimated that there are over 120,000 new cancer cases every year in Nigeria.
“With these gory statistics, NICRAT is determined to work with all relevant stakeholders to disrupt cancer in Nigeria through intense awareness creation and improved access to treatment and research.
“We have mapped out strategies to geometrically increase cancer experts in the country through training and retraining of all categories of health professionals.
“In our commitment and preparedness to disrupt all forms of cancers and ensure those with the illness have access to the best care and support in the country, we recently launched three strategic documents.
“The three documents are the 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.
“These documents have priority areas of action that address governance, prevention, supply chain management, data and research as well as surveillance which are in tandem with the aim of the current leadership of the Ministry of Health to improve the health of all Nigerians,” he said.
While commending President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration for giving cancer care priority, he said: “This was demonstrated by the recent movement of Cancer Trust Fund from the Federal Ministry of Health to NICRAT.”
On the efforts made to bring together critical stakeholders in the fight against cancer, the NICRAT Director General said: “Since my assumption of office over nine months ago, we have worked hard to lay a solid foundation for Nigeria to join the league of countries that have all the sophistication to control, prevent, treat and conduct cancer research.
“With the understanding that cancer care and treatment need multi-dimensional and multi-sectoral approach, over the past few months, we have built partnerships and alliances with relevant agencies of government including the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), the National Health Insurance Agency (NHIA) and Civil Society Organisations working in the area of cancer.
“We have also engaged in international collaboration in order to woo and attract support from reputable global organisations who are into cancer care and research. Very soon, experts in different fields of cancer care will come to Nigeria to discuss areas they can support us.”
Prof. Malami, therefore, solicited the support of the media, and critical stakeholders including Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in the cancer space so that in the next few years, cancer will be disrupted, defeated and eradicated in Nigeria.
He also called on Nigerians to pay close attention to their health by visiting the nearest health facility for regular checks. “Most importantly, go for examination whenever you have any abnormal feeling in your body.”
SOURCE: The Sun