BY CHIOMA OBINNA
Following the rise in the incidence of cancers in Nigeria,which is estimated at 350,000 new cases annually, the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) has inaugurated a National Cancer Research Network (CRN) to streamline and coordinate all research efforts in the area of cancers as well as ensure that research findings influence national policy, processes and procedures on the prevention, treatment and control of common cancers in Nigeria.
Inaugurating the network which comprises leaders in cancer care and research in the country, the Director General of NIMR, Prof. Innocent Ujah called on Nigerian cancer experts to brainstorm on how best to respond to the devastating effects of these cancers causing deaths and ill health among Nigerians.
His words, “Very specifically, breast and cervical cancers are taking their toll on our women and very young ones too, while prostate cancer is claiming the lives of men.”
Ujah who regretted that many of the cancers are preventable charged members of the network to generate data base from all parts of the country as well as show high level of commitment to the initiative that would assist the Federal Government to respond to cancer prevention, treatment and control.
In a lecturer entitled: Capacity Building for Basic, Applied and Operational Cancer Research in Africa, Dr NN Odunukwe who is also the Deputy Director Research, Head of Clinical Science Division, NIMR, noted that the fact that cancer is mystified in the country has affected prevention and treatment measures taken in Nigeria and Africa at large and as a result cancer patients are diagnosed at late_or end stage disease.
While acknowledging that cancer awareness was still poor in Nigeria, she pointed out the need to increase the possibility of achieving goal six of the National cancer plan which is to increase research activities in cancer control.
“It is therefore necessary to put in place mechanisms to identify epidemiological risk factors for cancers in our environment to save lives. There is an urgent need to create collaborations with various stakeholders in conducting cancer research in Africa and develop guidelines on cancer research and increase human and infrastructural capacity.”