By Fortune Eromosele, ABUJA

A non-governmental organisation, Project PINK BLUE, PPB, has said Nigeria can make progress in cancer control if more investments are made on research works for cancer treatment.

The Programme Coordinator, PPB, Gloria Okwu stated this at the National Hospital, Abuja, after a one-day training programme for oncologists. The training was organised by PPB with support from ACT Foundation in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health.

Quoting the words of the Executive Director, PPB, Runcie Chidebe, Okwu said, “For a country with over 200 million people with 120,000 cancer incidences and 72,000 cancer deaths, which is the highest cancer burden in the whole of Africa.

“Nigeria’s contribution to cancer research is poor and does not reflect any progress. Poor cancer research in Nigeria could be responsible for poor cancer management including the rising cancer deaths. Nigeria can make progress in cancer control if we invest in cancer research.”

She added that with an annual cancer case of 120,000 and 72,000 deaths, government needs to spend more on cancer treatments research works.

According to her, PPB has trained 80 Oncologists and 50 Pathologists, in a bid to support the federal government’s National Cancer Control Plan.

Okwu said, “This programme has been ongoing since 2018, as our support to the Federal Government’s National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022).

“In 2018, Project PINK BLUE brought two U.S.-based Fulbright specialists to train 44 clinical oncologists from different facilities across Nigeria in medical oncology with a focus on leukaemia, breast, prostate and childhood cancers.

“In 2021, 36 oncology Pharmacists were drawn from 24 facilities across Nigeria and were trained by two U.S. Fulbright Specialists in chemotherapy reconstitution, handling, and patient counselling.

“This year, 50 pathologists will be trained by U.S. Fulbright Specialists to support accuracy in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management.”

“To achieve the overall objective of Upgrade Oncology, Project PINK BLUE conducts an annual training alongside the major programme for health workers drawn from primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions on different aspects of cancer management.”

Explaining the need for a cancer research training, she said, “This year, we are focusing on cancer research. Why cancer research training?

“Of the 23,679 cancer research papers published in different peer-reviewed journals by African scientists and academic over a 12-year period, only 5,281 were from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Nigeria’s contribution were only 997, that is, 19% of the SSA total and 4% of entire Africa (Mutebi, et al., 2022). Clearly, Nigeria contributed only 19% of the entire cancer research in sub-Saharan Africa and only 4% of the cancer research in Africa.

“As a patient-oriented organisation, Project PINK BLUE understands that cancer research is crucial to improve the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of all forms of cancer, and ensures that cancer survivors live longer with better quality of life.

“Research also helps identify the causes of cancer, highlights improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, and effectively utilises the possibilities of international best practices. Based on this data and other evidence.

“We hope to stimulate learning and encourage research through capacity building among oncology professionals. It is our belief that oncology research by Nigerians, for Nigerians will provide homegrown results for better treatment outcomes.”

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