OrderPaperToday – It is 2021 World Cancer Day and the lamentations from patients and advocates remain the same in Nigeria particularly over the high cost of treatment.

Worse still, the outbreak of COVID-19 in Nigeria has reduced attention to other ailments, leaving patients at more risk of dying.

Saddening statistics…

According to Globocan, in 2020, Nigeria recorded 78,899 cancer-related deaths with breast and cervical cancers taking the lead.

Furthermore, the data shows that 44,699 women died from cancer last year alongside 34,200 men.

February 4 is a global uniting initiative led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) to mark World Cancer day being the second leading cause of death globally.

Like in 2020, the theme remains ‘I Am and I Will’.

Previous Interventions on Cancer…

A Special report done by OrderPaper Nigeria in 2020 to commemorate the day, highlighted several past interventions by the government in tackling the health menace.

They include inauguration of $11 million Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority and Lagos University Teaching Hospital advanced Cancer treatment centre in the state, launch of a $250 million National Cancer Control Plan for 2018-2022 to reduce prevalence and mortality during the period and the proposed plan to roll out a cancer treatment fund.

Also introduced at the legislative front is the Cancer Registry bill sponsored by Ossai Nicholas Ossai (PDP, Delta) which is at committee stage. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Healthcare Services on the 17th of September, 2019.

It seeks to provide cancer registry which will contain statistical records of incidence of cancer and also research into treatment and prevention of cancer.

But these interventions are yet to yield results particularly as cancer communities say they are yet to receive from the trust fund.

More legislative Interventions…

As a build up from the previous year, two more cancer bills were introduced in the 9th House of Representatives–National Control of Cancer (Establishment) bill, 2020, and National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (Establishment) bill.

The National Control of Cancer (Establishment) bill, 2020 seeks to formally establish NACC and other high powered interventions to coordinate and implement programmes for the control of disease in Nigeria.

According to the bill sponsored by Kolawole Lawal (APC, Ogun), the agency will among other things provide

“(a) leadership and advocacy for the prevention and control of cancer scourge in the Federation; and provide intergovernmental and multi sectoral coordination;

“(b) facilitate the formation and development of national and international partnerships and collaboration for the purpose of enhancing Nigeria’s control initiatives on the pandemic;

“(c) facilitate funding for effective dissemination of information and counseling against HIV and AIDS infections and care and support for people living with Cancer throughout the Federation;

“(d) review, from time to time, the extent of the implementation of the national strategic framework on the prevention and control of the Cancer by the Agency;

“(e) determine the overall policies and guideline of the Agency, including its financial and operating procedures and ensure their effective implementation.”

The bill was referred to the House Committee on Health institutions on the 23rd of November, 2020 and it is still at committee stage.

Also, the National Institute of for Cancer Research and Treatment bill was sponsored by Gwani Lucas (PDP, Kaduna) and it has only passed through first reading.

It is hoped that these new interventions will place treatment of cancer patients at the front burner.

Additional reporting Bakare Majeed

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