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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Challenges facing cancer management in Nigeria as identified by agency

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The Director General of the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), Usman Aliyu, has identified a number of challenges faced in the battle against cancer in Nigeria.

Mr. Aliyu highlighted issues such as inadequate funding, opposition to vaccinations in certain groups, and a shortage of oncology nurses as obstacles in managing cancer in the country.


He spoke at a retreat organized for journalists in Abuja, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) by NICRAT in partnership with the International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH).

The purpose of the training was to familiarize journalists with cancer management issues and emphasize the crucial role they can play in combating cancer cases in Nigeria and beyond.


Regarding the funding challenge, Mr. Aliyu mentioned that the budget allocation for cancer-related issues in 2024 might not be sufficient for effective campaigns against the disease.


He assured that the government plans to increase the allocation for cancer management in future budgets to address the crisis posed by the disease.

Also at the forum, the Director of the Cancer Prevention and Control unit of the agency, Usman Waziri, explained the importance of vaccinating both boys and girls against cancer. However, due to cost constraints in low- and middle-income countries like Nigeria, they have opted for vaccinating girls only.

Ayodelle Obaro, a nurse from Stephen James Healthcare Limited in the UK, emphasized the crucial role of oncology nurses in cancer management. She highlighted the importance of specialization in nursing for the proper treatment of different cancer cases.

Cancer in Nigeria

Mr. Aliyu mentioned the recent report by the Global Cancer Observatory (GLOBOCAN), which reported 120,000 new cancer cases and 80,000 deaths in Nigeria in 2022.


He cited the most prevalent cancer cases in Nigeria for both sexes, including breast cancer, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, colorectal cancer, and Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL).

Mr. Aliyu stressed the importance of educating the public about cancer and the availability of programs like the Cancer Health Fund (CHF) and Cancer Access Programme (CAP) to improve cancer care in the country.

He also mentioned the government’s plans to allocate separate funds for children with cancer and adult cancer patients.

Mr. Aliyu called on journalists to raise awareness among the public about the cervical cancer vaccine.

Role of Media

Eunice Damisa from the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) emphasized the role of the media in providing accurate information to the public for informed decision-making. She urged the media to influence positive attitudes towards cancer, encourage vaccination, and report symptoms early.

She suggested creating opportunities for dialogue, sharing real-life stories of cancer survivors, and portraying cancer as a manageable disease rather than a death sentence.


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