By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
A Cancer Services Equitable Access and Sustainable Financing Advocate, Dr. Aminu Magashi Garba, has advocated for the appropriation of 10 billion naira to the Cancer Health Fun (CHF) budget line in 2024 and to be provided for cancer services in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
He further advised the Federal Government to move the 2024 Cancer Health Fund (CHF) budget line from the Federal Ministry of Health to the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT) to manage and coordinate.
He stated this in his verified Facebook page, yesterday.
The CHF, an initiative of the Federal Ministry of Health, is a social service and an innovative way to provide affordable cancer treatments for indigent patients at treatment centers across Nigeria.
The CHF program commenced in 2021 with six pilot hospitals. They include Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), National Hospital Abuja (NHA), University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin (UBTH), Federal Teaching Hospital Gombe (FTH), University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) and University College Hospital (UCH).
The programe involves partners such as American Cancer society, ROCHE, PFIZER, MYLAN, Clinton Health Access Initiative, WWCV, BICON and EMGE resources who is mandated to implement the CHF initiative on behalf of the federal government.
However, Dr. Magashi insisted that since NICRAT is a creation of the law with the mandate to take care of all issues around cancer research and treatment in Nigeria, it will be proper that the 2024 Cancer Health Fund budget line is moved to the Institute for efficient disbursement and management.
The Federal Ministry of Health, he said, can only provide what he described as “oversight” to ensure that the fund is properly managed.
“The 2024 Cancer Health Fund (CHF) Budget Line should move from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) to National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT) to manage and coordinate, while FMoH holds the oversight.
“We should advocate for at least N10 billion appropriation for the CHF in 2024 and to be provided for cancer services in all the 36 states plus FCT and to advocate for a strong partnership between NICRAT and National Health Insurance Authority in improving cancer services access to all Nigerians in need,” says Dr. Magashi.
Findings show that in 2020, an estimated 78,000 people died as a result of cancer related complications in Nigeria. Out of this number, 44,699 were females while 34,200 were males.
The cases, experts said, may increase as there are over 120,000 new cancer cases every year.
It would be recalled that as a result of these rising cases of cancers in the country, the Federal Government under former President Muhammadu Buhari established NICRAT with the responsibility to improve cancer research and treatment in Nigeria.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, December 2017, assented to the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (Establishment) Bill 2017.
The Act is to provide national direction in cancer research, control and treatment; guide scientific improvements to cancer prevention, treatment and care, coordinate and liaise between the wide range of groups and health care providers with an interest in cancer.
The strategic focus of the Institute as enshrined in the Act include policy advisory in cancer prevention, treatment and control; regulate and enhance access to cancer care in Nigeria; research and development in cancer prevention and control; resource mobilization for cancer prevention and control; establish and maintain cancer registry; public education and awareness creation in cancer and capacity development in cancer prevention and control