FG Allocates N200m for Treatment of Indigent Cancer Patients in 2024 — Alausa

(Last Updated On: 2024-02-07)

The sum of N200 million has been earmarked by the Federal Government for the treatment of indigent cancer patients in the 2024 Appropriation Act (budget), contained in the Cancer Health Fund (CHF).

The Minister of State for Health, Dr Tunji Alausa, disclosed this during a media conference to commemorate the 2024 World Cancer Day (WCD) in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WCD is an international day marked on Feb. 4 to raise awareness of cancer and to encourage its prevention, detection, and treatment.

Between 2022 and 2024, the focus of the global observance was to help “Close the Cancer Gap” and the theme for 2024
is “Together, We Challenge Those In Power” as sub-theme.

This focuses on the global demand for leaders to prioritise and invest in cancer prevention and care, and to do more to achieve a just and cancer-free world.

The minister, therefore, said Federal Government had put in N1.3 billion into the CHF in the last four years to enhance the treatment of indigent patients.

He, however, added that though the fund would not be enough to do what needed to be done to take care of Nigerians; the ministry was mobilising funds through a sectorwide approach and involving private sector participation.

Alausa said “that is not what we need to take care of the large burden of the disease that we face. We are working on mobilising substantial amount of money from two various pathways.

“The Health Sector Renewal Initiative, the big focus of that is sectorwide approach. This will enable us mobilise funds and coordinate current fragmentation we have in our healthcare system.

“We have the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF), which is one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) but that is not enough to meet the healthcare needs of our vulnerable group and the people that need it the most.”

He added that the ministry would collaborate with development partners to direct funds to where it was needed for better coordination to avoid duplication.

He said “as we mobilise some of the funds from our development partners as well as the funds from the BHCPF, we will direct more to Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) and the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA).

“The move is to enable us to cover all patients as we move into the year, and we are fortunate to have supplementary budget; we will advocate for more funding to be directed to the healthcare sector.”

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

For better coordination, he said, the ministry recently moved the CHF being coordinated and housed in the ministry to NICRAT to provide prompt and unhindered access to indigent Nigerians who needed it for efficiency, particularly timeliness and sustainability.

He said the ministry would, however, continue to provide its oversight and policy direction for the fund.

Speaking about some of the steps taken to address cancer challenges in the country, he mentioned primary prevention through vaccination, early detection, prompt treatment and research.

According to him, the ministry, through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), is leading the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccination for primary prevention of cancer of the cervix.

“It is also carrying out Hepatitis immunisation for prevention of liver cancers.

“Vaccination for viral hepatitis has been on the national programme on immunisation, HPV Vaccination was commenced in 2023.

“I hereby enjoin parents, opinion leaders and indeed all stakeholders to take advantage of the immunisation programmes. The vaccine is free, very safe and highly efficacious in preventing these cancers.”

The minister also said that the NHIA Act 2022 had made health insurance mandatory for all Nigerians, therefore had been mandated through a guideline to enrol all Nigerians including cancer patients into health insurance.

“The NHIA will ultimately manage funding for cancer care in the future, to avoid duplication of roles in terms of purchase of services for all patients.

“Recently, the operational guideline of the NHIA Act was launched to pave the way for full operationalisation of the Act, which also provides for funding for vulnerable Nigerians including cancer patients.”

He also said that to improve access to cancer care services, the government was establishing six new cancer centres of excellence in the following hospitals across the six geopolitical zones with brachytherapy machines and other equipment.

They are University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu (South-East), Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Federal Teaching Hospital, Katsina (North-West), University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin (South-South) and Jos University teaching Hospital, Jos (North Central).

Others are Lagos University Teaching Hospitals, Lagos (South West), while University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital, Maiduguri (North-East) was being upgraded.

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