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Sunday, April 14, 2024

FG and NSIA collaborate to improve cancer treatment in Nigeria

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The federal government and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), on Friday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance oncology care in the country. The Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Ali Pate, signed the MoU, along with the Managing Director of NSIA, Aminu Umar-Sadiq, in Abuja.

Mr Pate said that the MoU would aid the procurement of oncology equipment for the management of cancer. He added that upgrading the equipment in the six cancer centres, located in six designated teaching hospitals in the six geo-political zones of the country, was an important milestone.

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This is because it would mark the end of tragic stories for thousands of Nigerians who struggle to get care for cancer.

According to him, Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), including cancers, are among the fastest-growing disease burdens in the country. He explained that NSIA as the manager, is to execute a similar project as it did in Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) in other teaching hospitals.

“So, NSIA would bring the technical capacity, the experience, and the governance system, following the authority’s relationship with manufacturers of cancer equipment. We have seen how they ran that of LUTH and it is a very important partner to government.”

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He said that the government oncology initiative hitherto initiated with other hospitals lasted for years without success. “But this is a different path where we’re using a government-owned entity (NSIA) to execute, where the entity will go directly to the manufacturers, taking away the middlemen.

“My understanding is that we have almost 30 per cent discount in the cost of equipment by virtue of going to the manufacturers directly, a clear value added of almost N10 billion saved because of the discount.”

Mr Pate said that the initial appropriation approved for the teaching hospitals about four years ago remained N17.9 billion, while in 2024, the federal government appropriated N20 billion for it, totaling N37.9 billion. He, however, urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in the cancer space to ensure all funds for the initiative were monitored to ensure accountability.

On his part, Umar-Sadiq of NSIA said that the organization had seen first-hand through its facility, the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, the significant impact a localized world-class oncology facility can make to Nigerians. He said that the opportunity to multiply it under a government initiative across the country was something that everyone should be enthusiastic about ensuring its success.

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“It is truly a pleasure for the NSIA to play its own small part in making this done. Victory can only be declared when the minister is commissioning these six centres in the next 18 to 24 months. Victory really is when these centres are being commissioned with the right equipment, the right civil works completed, the right working capital framework and the right school with the right training strategy for our clinicians and non-clinicians being in place.”

The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Jos University Teaching Hospital, Pokop Bupwadata, said that the strategy of bringing in NSIA would ensure sustainability in managing the six centres.

ALSO READ: Cancer Care: Nigeria has only eight certified radiotherapy centres – Official

He said, “Just like it was demonstrated in LUTH, they would not need to reinvent the wheel and going that way would add value to the Nigerian government and people.”

The CMD of LUTH, Wasiu Adeyemo, said that when the centre started, it was turbulent; however, with the involvement of the NSIA, it became successful. Mr Adeyemo said, “Many Nigerians that used to go to Ghana or UK now come to LUTH, so on behalf of Nigerians and the staff of the centre and management of the hospital, we are thankful for this initiative.”

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the signing of the MoU aligns with President Bola Tinubu’s directive to upgrade the six cancer centres located in the country’s six geopolitical zones to enhance cancer treatment. (NAN)

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