The Federal Ministry of Health says at least 250,000 new cases of cancer are recorded yearly in Nigeria.
In a bid to curb the menace, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Monday, announced a nationwide screening of common cancers particularly cancer of the cervix, breast and prostate.
Adewole said this at the inauguration of the special health intervention project in Abuja on Monday.
He said, “The ministry, through her tertiary health institutions, will be conducting free screening for cervical and breast cancers among eligible women and prostate cancers for men above the age of 50 years.
“In total, we plan to screen 250,000 eligible poor Nigerians who hitherto could not pay for these services. May I appeal to private sector players, including foundations, to support the Federal Government in her quest to screen Nigerians for cancers by collaborating with us? We are open to suggestions and advice to making this effort sustainable.
“The ultimate benefit of the cancer screening is to link those picked with early cancers to treatment and hopefully begin to proactively reduce our cancer burden.
“Today, 10,000 cancer deaths are recorded annually while 250,000 new cases are recorded yearly in Nigeria.”
The minister also revealed that 70 federal health establishments would get N11.5bn as part of the special health intervention project.
The special intervention projects include the tertiary health institution project, revitalisation of 774 Primary Healthcare Centres in each local government area across the country, purchase of anti-retroviral drugs for 20,000 eligible Nigerians and nationwide screening of common cancers (particularly cancer of the cervix, breast and prostate).
Other projects include 10,000 free cataract surgeries (i.e. 250 cataract surgeries per state) and free treatment of 800 patients with confirmed diagnosis of hepatitis C infection.
Explaining the tertiary health institution intervention, the minister said the National Health Insurance Scheme had designed the tertiary health institution intervention as a means to address some of the critical challenges as enshrined in the act establishing it.
Adewole added, “Today in Nigeria, the federal teaching hospitals, medical centres and specialist hospitals across the six geopolitical zones that will benefit from the intervention include 21 federal teaching hospitals, 31 Federal Medical Centres, four specialist hospitals, 14 fistula and cleft lip/palate centres.
“Under the project, each of the federal teaching hospitals will receive N300m while the specialist hospitals will receive N200m each. The FMCs and the fistula centres will receive N120m and N50m respectively.”
Adewole said the aim was to strengthen and reposition the tertiary health institutions for better performance; to make the facilities self sustainable and attractive to a large number of patients they cater for; and to strengthen their research capabilities.
He added that the initiative was also to reduce medical tourism arising from obsolete equipment and infrastructure; and ultimately to facilitate the attainment of the Universal Health Coverage for Nigeria.”
The minister noted that each benefiting institution would sign a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding with NHIS and the ministry.
The MoU, he explained, would spell out the operational modalities of the project and the hospitals would produce a performance bond in respect of the fund to be disbursed to them from the NHIS accredited banks or insurance companies.
He said he would set up a monitoring and evaluation committee to oversee the judicious and timely utilisation of the intervention fund.
The committee members, he added, would be drawn from the ministry, organised labour, the Nigerian Medical Association, the National Orientation Agency and others which would submit periodic reports and a final report to his office.
Adewole said apart from the federal health establishments, Primary Healthcare Centres across the 774 local government areas would also be revitalised.