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March 2, 2024
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Prof. Usman Aliyu, Director-General, NICRAT

FG unveils plan to cater for cancer survivors

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By Folasade Akpan

The Federal Government says it has made plans in a new policy plans for cancer survivors to be catered to adequately.

The Director-General, National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), Dr Usman Aliyu, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja.

According to him, the plan is contained in one of the three cancer policies aimed at aiding cancer prevention and treatment in Nigeria the Federal Government will inaugurate soon.

He said that the institute has since its establishment in January, been working on the policies that are expected to ensure that cancer prevention, treatment and research into all cancer issues are put on the front burner.

“We have drafted our second National Strategic Cancer Control Plan. The first one that was ever drafted for the country was for 2018 to 2022 which has expired, but I’m happy to announce to you that the institute has drafted a new cancer plan.

“It is a five year plan that will span from 2023 to 2027 and that is all encompassing. The plan will be a leading guide to all the activities of cancer in the country and it cuts across the area of cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment, palliative care and even survivorship for the first time.

“We are having this component of cancer survivorship in our plan for survivors, which is actually a neglected area.”

Aliyu also said that the institute has finalised work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other partners to develop the nation’s first National Cervical Cancer Control plan 2023-2027.

He said that the plan would give direction on how the institute intends to follow in agenda of WHO in the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030.

He also said that being a research institute, research was a very strong component of NICRAT, but that it could not just dive into it without having an agenda.

“So we have drafted the first National Cancer Research Agenda 2024-2028 for the country that will give way and pave a direction for cancer research in Nigeria”, he said.

The D-G said that all the documents would be inaugurated during the 2023 International Cancer Week scheduled for Oct. 23 to 26 in Abuja, with the theme ‘Addressing Cancer Care Disparities through Research and Improved Access to Treatment’.

He said that the theme was aimed at addressing the disparity in cancer care as there were renewed calls by the oncologists globally to try and close the gaps.

“If you look at the disparities that we have in the areas of maybe the race, ethnicity and even tribal, it is gross, so the concept was coined out of what the global scientists are focusing on now.

“If you look at America, they are pumping a lot of resources in the area of cancer prevention, research and treatment but they are not getting the outcome they are expecting then they embarked on research.

“In 2022, we had almost 19.7 million new cases and more than 10 million deaths from cancer and there is a report that by the next few decades this is going to increase by 70 per cent.

“About 80 per cent of this number is going to emanate from Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) or which is majorly Sub Saharan Africa.”

He added that it was a pointer to something being wrong which indicates the disparity in cancer care.

Aliyu also said that this informed the decision to begin to look into how to close that gap.

He said that the week would also feature interactive sessions and presentation on cancer registries, adding that cancer registries are the key to getting data on cancer.

“In the area of research, the Institute is already working on how to carry out a general cancer mapping for the country. This is important because we want to standardise the data that we have in the area.

“We mapped out all the cancers that we have using the cancer registries that we have, the research tools and even the individual hospitals that are not in the cancer registry.

“The data will be more robust and more reliable than just making an estimate based on other diseases or what our neighbours have to take decisions on Nigeria as well in other area of cancer.” (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Sadiya Hamza

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