The Federal Government has designated seven of its Federal Tertiary Health Institutions as Oncology Centres of Excellence with a view to upgrading them to manage invasive cancer and cancer-related illnesses.
Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health said this at a news conference to commemorate the 2020 World Cancer Day on Tuesday in Abuja.
World Cancer Day is marked worldwide on 4th February annually, aimed at averting millions of preventable deaths through awareness creation.
The minister said the government had designated the seven centres to manage cancer-related illness in line with the international best practices.
The seven institutions are the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Lagos, and University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan.
Others are University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu, Usmanu Danfodiyo University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, Amadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABTH), Zaria and National Hospital, Abuja.
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“To this end, there is an ongoing installation process of newly acquired Brachytherapy machines (one per centre) and CT simulators are being supplied for these institutions to enable them to commence treatment after the installations.
“The bunkers to house these equipment are at various levels of completion. To ensure uninterrupted services to patients, LUTH, Lagos is on Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with National Sovereign Investment Authority,’’ he said.
The minister said the second phase of Medical Physicist Residency training in South Africa was underway to enhance the skills and increase the number of personnel in radiotherapy.
In addition, he said there were plans to train healthcare workers at the Primary Health Cares on early diagnosis and referral of common cancers.
“Nigeria commenced Residency programme, licensing and registration of clinical Medical Physicists for the first time.
“The Second phase of Medical Physicist Residency training in South Africa is underway to enhance the skills and increase the number of personnel in that field,’’ the minister said.
According to him, government is partnering the American Cancer Society (ACS) and Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to make 16 chemotherapy medications available at 65 per cent cheaper than current market cost.
“This was launched on 29th October, 2019; seven teaching hospitals are participating in this programme, these are:
“ABTH, Zaria; Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano; Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos; National Hospital, Abuja; Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Ile Ife; University College Hospital, Ibadan and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu.
“There is an ongoing engagement with other organisations to bring additional medicines including biologics and immunotherapy at less the present cost in the market. This is to ensure regular and unbroken supply of these drugs.
“In an effect to ameliorate the sufferings of victims, the ministry is already in the process of developing a National Hospice and Palliative Care policy.
“This is intended to provide the best quality of life for cancer patients, survivors and their families.’’
Ehanire said that 2020 marked the midway point of the three years‘’I am and I will’’ which is an empowering call-to-action, urging for personal commitment and represents the power of individual action taken now to impact the future.
He, therefore, called on all and sundry to join in the onslaught against this hydra-headed monster called cancer.
He said the government had laid a solid foundation upon which it would build to take Nigeria to that enviable level – the hub of cancer management in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This will help to curb medical tourism and reducing capital flight to the barest minimum,’’ the minister said.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr Abdulaziz Abdullahi said the theme of the celebration was apt as it made it 20th-anniversary cancer control programme.
The theme is “I am and I will” play my part to reduce the burden of cancer in Nigeria.
Abdullahi represented Mr Felix Ogenyi, Director General Services said the ministry had committed a lot of resources for awareness creation, screening, early detection and treatment of cancer.
He said that the ministry was committed to taking the fight to the next level in line with the agenda of the current administration to achieve Universal Health Coverage.
Answering questions from newsmen, Dr Joseph Amedu, Director and Head, Department of Hospital Services in the ministry said the equipment installation at the seven institutions mentioned by the minister had reached 80 per cent completion.
Amedu said the centres would soon be inaugurated and open for the treatment of cancer- related illnesses.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in Nigeria every year with an estimated 102,000 new cases of cancer annually, according to the Nigeria National Cancer Prevention and Control Plan (2018-2022)
The top five cancer burdens in Nigeria are Prostate, Liver, Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Colorectal and Pancreatic for the male and Breast, Cervical, Liver, Colorectal and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma for the female.
Of these, breast and cervical cancers are responsible for approximately 50.3 per cent of all cancers in Nigeria.