Cancer Control Policy in Nigeria

In Nigeria, cancer as a non-communicable disease is yet to get a viable policy action from the Nigerian government including the federal and state government. The Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) executes cancer policy through the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), which is more like a cancer desk and does not have sufficient funding and capability to comprehensively control cancer in Nigeria. The burden of cancer in Nigeria is too huge to be in the auspices of a desk. So many countries across Africa and globally are taking drastic measures to reduce the burden of cancer and alleviate the pains caused by the disease. Nigeria requires a National Agency on Cancer Control, which should be under presidency in order to drastically step-up the fight against cancer in Nigeria.

Nigerian need an agency for cancer control, which will replace the cancer desk and will drive comprehensive cancer prevention, screening, palliative care, cancer registration and data generation for planning; research and service arm that would look after many centres for treatment in different teaching hospitals.  The agency will be looking out for data on cancer and use the data for policy processes and will also mobilize private sectors to invest in cancer care. Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) is upgrading seven (7) Oncology Centres of Excellence focused on comprehensive cancer care; with a plan of setting up additional seven (7) centres, totaling fourteen (14) across Nigeria.

The global best practice (shown with examples from Spain, with Institit Catalonia d’Oncologia (ICO) and Cancer Australia in Australia). The National Cancer Control Agency will provide comprehensive cancer care, drive the upgrade of the existing treatment centres, propel access and availability of HPV vaccine, pursue a waiver of import duties for cancer medication and chemotherapy in order to get pharmaceutical companies to reduce the traumatic cost of cancer drugs, and overall coordination of cancer control just like HIV/AIDs.

Cancer control policies can only be driven if Nigerians advocate for it and consistently engage the National Assembly and the presidency to take action in cancer control in Nigeria. Hence, cancer control in Nigeria must be a collaborative effort of all Nigerians including NGOs, CSOs, cancer patients, medical practitioners, professional associations, trade unions and every human being living in Nigeria or associated to Nigeria.