Wellbeing Foundation releases rapid assessment report on cancer

The Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) has released its ground-breaking ‘Rapid Assessment of the Prevention and Control of Cancer in Nigeria’ report, the first independent national research on cancer provisions.

The study, led by the WBFA with support from an Amref Health Africa research grant and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company, comes on the heels of the launch of Nigeria’s Cancer Control Plan (NCCP) by the Federal Government, earlier this month.

Cancer is responsible for 72,000 deaths in Nigeria every year, with an estimated 102,000 new cases annually. The launching of the report in Abuja last week has provided a critical assessment of the needs and capacity of actors and stakeholders in the Nigerian health system to prevent and control cancer.

The report also presents recommendations to urgently transform cancer treatment in Nigeria. The WBFA’s findings highlight the challenges facing the battle against cancer, especially as Nigeria has a severe shortage of health personnel for its care. There is also a lack of well-coordinated chain of supply of drugs and the requisite infrastructure. The 80 per cent rate of patients who are at a stage of advanced disease at time of presentation leaves little hope for many, given the lack of functional radiotherapy machines and other tools for diagnosis and treatment.

The Founder/President of WBFA, Barr. Toyin Ojora-Saraki, in his remarks at the launch said, “This report provides all stakeholders with evidence for efficient frontline actions to prevent, detect, and treat cancer, across Nigeria.”

“It will allow stakeholders to harness our wealth of knowledge to key into the recently announced government policy for prompt actions across the nation.”

“We can also teach our people, and intensify citizen engagement in reducing high-risk behaviours, to be best positioned to detect cancers at an early stage when they are most successful and cost-effective to treat,” she said.

Mrs Saraki however appreciated Amref, and other stakeholders for making comprehensively robust research, particularly the Report Research Principal Investigator, Dr Bolaji Ayandipo and Dr Akin Orunmuyi, University College Hospital Ibadan and Dr Segun Biyi-Olutunde, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital. Others are, Dr Aliyu Malami, Uthman Dan Fodio University Teaching Hospital, Sokoto, Dr Amaka Lasebikan and Dr Lola Salako, Lagos University Teaching Hospital and the WBFA Country Director, Dr Luther King-Fasehun.

Receiving the report on behalf of the Federal Government, the Minister of State for Health Dr Osagie Ehanire noted that the findings and stakeholders meeting align with government’s plans to strengthen the training of cancer-related health workers, improve infrastructure and service delivery for cancer prevention, treatment and palliative care.

He said, “we welcome the WBFA-Amref inter-sectoral collaboration, alongside its partnerships with local and global stakeholders in order to improve awareness and information on preventive practices, encouraging early diagnosis and management of all cancers.”

The research took place in 12 focal states, comprising of 6 geo-political zones and various tertiary centres.

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