The Director General, National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), Dr Usman Aliyu, has called on the Federal Government to fund the institute to be able to achieve its mandate.
Aliyu made the appeal on Monday in Abuja, during a media conference.
According to him, getting the appropriate funding will help the institute to embark on the needed research to reverse the growing cancer incidents in the country.
He said that the disease was globally recognised as one of the leading Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), adding that it is a major contributor of morbidity and mortality.
“It is estimated to have had over 19.3 million new cases and about 10.0 million deaths in 2020.
“The number of new cases is expected to rise by 70 per cent in the next two decades with the highest burden in low-and middle-income countries where survival rates less than half of those in developed countries.
“In Nigeria, cancer caused over 78,000 deaths in 2020 alone and is set to increase given that there are 120,000 new cases of cancer every year ” he said.
Aliyu said that cancer has immense socio-economic impact on individuals, families, communities and the health system.
He added that the huge burden of the disease was compounded by a severely limited capacity of most low income countries to provide the necessary healthcare.
“This is just an appeal that we want to make to the Federal Government that this institute needs a lot of funding.
“So that at least we can embark on and carry out a lot of research because research is the answer to the problem that we have in cancer space in the country.
“It is through research that you can define or identify the best constructible preventive mechanism.
“Likewise in the area of diagnosis we are still evolving and it is through research that we can actually identify and come up with newer modalities to diagnose cancer.”
The institute, which was established under the NICRAT Act of 2017, has the responsibility to provide national leadership in cancer research, treatment and control among other things.
Aliyu said that the institute, which commenced operations in January intends to carry out mapping of the resources needed in cancer space to work with.
“Be it human resource, let us know the workforce, the manpower that we have, the specialists that we have, the surgeons, surgical oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation clinical oncologists, the community health people that are working in cancer, even the advocates.
“We do not have a document that says this is the exact number and if you don’t have all that you cannot plan.
“So we intend to carry out general mapping on that and also on the burden of cancer within the country and that will tell us the prevalence, the incidence that we have.
“This is because most of the problems that we are having, these projections that we have most of the researches that we have seen are purely hospital based and they are just the tip of the iceberg.
“So we have already initiated the discussion with the National Cancer Institute in America and we hope to get a lot of partners to work with us along this line,” he said.
Aliyu also said that the institute has already sought collaborations with other cancer institutes across the globe to enable it get all the necessary support needed.
He added that so far there have been positive responses that would lead to beneficial collaborations that would ease the burden of cancer in Nigeria.(NAN)