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Dr. Tunji Alausa
Honourable Minister of State, Health
Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare

"We are provided with the opportunity to showcase our efforts and adapt the cross learnings from our international partners by the improving the quality of life of cancer patients, advancement and increased investment in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and  research in Nigeria." Tunji Alausa.

Nigeria's Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Tunji Alausa has reiterated the country's commitment to wards addressing health challenges faced by its citizenry and also, commemorate the World Cancer Day as a UN member state, as a nation working with multinational cancer organizations and with all opinion leaders around the world.

Alausa noted that, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), Cancer is one of the leading causes of death worldwide and in Nigeria. No wonder the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) at the first World Summit Against Cancer in 2000 in Paris, declared 4th February every year as the World Cancer Day. 

"We are drawn by the United Nations to the fact that, Cancer is one of the World’s most dreaded diseases." He said.

"This declaration I believe, has continued to attract the needed attention towards addressing the challenges of cancer care globally."

Dr. Tunji Alausa and the Permanent Secretary, Daju Kachollom at the World Cancer Day.

Dr. Alausa further stated that, "We are provided with the opportunity to showcase our efforts and adapt the cross learnings from our international partners by the improving the quality of life of cancer patients, advancement and increased investment in cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and  research in Nigeria

Speaking on the the theme of the 2024 World Cancer Day; ‘Closing the Cancer Care Gap’ with emphasis on “Together, we can challenge those in power”, is apt and timely as it seeks to address the dichotomy between different social classes with respect to access to cancer care. 

"May I say boldly here that the 2024 focus of the World Cancer Day theme resonates absolutely with the Renewed Hope Agenda of His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR). 

R-L HMSH&SW Dr. Tunji Alausa , H. E Dr. Mrs Florence Ajimobi Founder Medical Care Foundation, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu Chairperson First Ladies Against Cancer Initiative (FLAC , H. E Mrs Bamidele Abiodun the First Lady of Ogun State and founder Ajose Foundation and Dr. Walter  Kasidi Molumbo during the Commemoration of the Cancer World Day.

"We are now adopting several measures the rising cost of drugs and medical consumables, this is moreso coming from the directive of our dear President that is  so compassionate to the plight of the health status of Nigerian citizens.

Alausa, while speaking further, stated that, "As you may be aware, the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, has unveiled a 4-point Agenda to reposition the health sector which include:

* Improving Health care governance

* Improving Population Health Outcomes

* Unlocking Healthcare value chain

* Health Security for Nigerians.

"Equally, we have taken several steps to address cancer challenges in the country among them are;  

* Primary prevention through vaccination, early detection, prompt treatment and Research. The Ministry through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) is leading the Human Papilloma virus vaccination for primary prevention of cancer of the Cervix, as well as the Hepatitis immunization for prevention of liver cancers. Cervical and liver cancers happen to be the second and the fourth commonest cancers in Nigeria respectively. 

 * Vaccination for viral hepatitis has been on the National Programme on immunization, HPV Vaccination was commenced in 2023. I hereby enjoin parents, opinion leaders and indeed all stakeholders to take advantage of the immunization programmes. The vaccine is free, very safe and highly efficacious in preventing these cancers.

He noted that the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT) recently created, is mandated by law to provide leadership in the area of cancer research and treatment.  

"We have just recently moved the Cancer Health Fund that is coordinated and housed in the Ministry NICRAT to provide prompt and unhindered access the Cancer Health Fund to the indigent Nigerian who needs this for efficiency particularly timeliness and sustainability.

"The Ministry will continue to provide its oversight and policy direction for the fund." He stated.

The Honourable Minister of State, Health, Dr Tunji Alausa further noted that, "The National Health Insurance Authority Act 2022 has made Health Insurance mandatory for all Nigerians. We have also provided that strategic guidance for NHIA to enroll all Nigerians including cancer patients into health insurance. This will go a long way in reducing the cost of cancer care in the country. 

"The NHIA will ultimately manage funding for cancer care in the future, to avoid duplication of roles in terms of purchase of services fob r all patients. Recently, the operational guideline of the NHIA Act was launched to pave the way for full operationalization of the Act, which also provides for Funding for vulnerable Nigerians including cancer patients. 

"Under our leadership, we shall ensure that we continue to coordinate all the agencies to live up to expectations and mandates."

Alausa reiterated that, "to improve access to cancer care services the Government is establishing 6 new Cancer Centres of Excellence in the following Hospitals - UNTH Enugu (South-East), ABUTH Zaria, FTH Katsina (North-West), UBTH Benin (South-South), JUTH Jos (North Central),  and LUTH, Lagos (South West),  while UMTH Maiduguri is being upgraded (North-East) across the 6 geopolitical zones  country with brachytherapy machines and other equipment. 

"We are currently implementing the National Policy on Hospice and Palliative care and the national policy on Chemotherapy Safety which were launched in 2021. This year is the midterm of their implementation. The Ministry will take steps to review the level of implementation of the 2 policy documents with the view to ensuring optimal uptake by the Healthcare providers across the country.

"I wish to enjoin all stakeholders to continue to partner with the Ministry and all our agencies to implement the programmes and activities meant to provide robust cancer care services in the country. I want to commend all the bilateral and multilateral organizations, Non-governmental organizations, pharmaceutical and Equipment manufacturers who have been collaborating with us in the management of Cancer in Nigeria.

"Gentlemen of the press, distinguish invitees take our message out there just like the focus of the 2024 World Cancer Day Theme which says “Together, we can challenge those in power” as we have challenged ourselves, and have resolved to close cancer care gap in Nigeria." 

This was contained in a statement issued and signed by the Director, Information Unit of the Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Patricia Deworitshe.

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