The National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT) has disclosed that the agency new policy contains cancer survivors for adequate care. The NICRAT Director General, Dr Usman Aliyu, stated that the plan is contained in one of the three cancer policies aimed at aiding cancer prevention and treatment in Nigeria, which the Federal Government will inaugurate soon.
The boss said, “We have drafted our second National Strategic Cancer Control Plan. The first one ever drafted for the country was for 2018–2022, which has expired, but I’m happy to announce 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 areas 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 are actually a neglected area.”
The DG also said that the institute has finalized work with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners to develop the nation’s first National Cervical Cancer Control plan for 2023–2027. This would give direction on how the institute intends to follow the agenda of the WHO for the elimination of cervical cancer by 2030.
“So we have drafted the first National Cancer Research Agenda 2024-2028 for the country that will pave the 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. 23–26 in Abuja, with the theme ‘Addressing Cancer Care Disparities through Research and Improved Access to Treatment’ and aimed at addressing the disparity in cancer care as there were renewed calls by oncologists globally to try and close the gaps.
“If you look at the disparities that we have in the areas of race, ethnicity, and even tribalism, 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, so 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 percent.
“About 80 percent of this number is going to emanate from Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC) or which is majorly Sub-Saharan Africa.”
Aliyu said that the week would also feature interactive sessions and presentations 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 standardize 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 neighbors’ have to take decisions on Nigeria as well in other areas of cancer.”