February 7, 2021
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By MOSES ORJIME, Abuja

Medicaid Cancer Foundation has called for urgent actions on early stage cancer detection, institutionalised screening, and diagnosis to significantly improve cancer patients’ chances of survival.

The foundation founded by the wife of Kebbi State governor, Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, in a statement to mark World Cancer Day noted the difficulties cancer organisations face in maintaining life-saving services, not only due to a drop in resources but also because of the
measures enacted to contain the spread of the Corona virus and infection of patients with underlying disease like cancer.

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It said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused interruptions, delays and even complete halt in prevention programmes, diagnostics and testing, clinical trials and research, adding that the difficulties in engaging in community outreach with restrictions on travel and social gathering
creates great obstacles in low- and middle-income countries.

“This year, as we struggle to comply with Covid-19 protocols, we are distributing the ‘Orange Box’; in commemoration of World Cancer Day to 20 cancer warriors across Nigeria. Each box contains essential warrior supplies and a grant of N200, 000 ($550) funding for drugs and
chemotherapy.

“Despite these, our successful Patient Access to Cancer Care Evolution (PACE) programme received a boost with the inclusion of more drugs and consumables from drug companies within and outside Nigeria. These include Roche, Sanofi, Pfizer, Jansen and RemedyChain Inc. In
particular we are pleased to announce on this WCD2021, the inclusion of Perjeta (Pertuzumab) by Roche and Ibrance (palbociclib) by Pfizer; both used in the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. This encapsulates the extraordinary spirit of togetherness that exists in
the global cancer community.

“Finally, through UNITAID support, we will be training 20 healthcare workers in Abuja and Kebbi on early treatment of cervical cancer lesions using thermal ablation. This is in line with the WHO’s global strategy to eliminate cervical cancer by 2030. MCF is committed to the
strategy whilst ensuring Nigerian cancer patients have access to finance for treatment, adequate nutrition and psychosocial support to help them navigate through the new normal.
Without effective communication our programmes will not be of value to those who need it most, this is why Medicaid Cancer Foundation has partnered with Media Women Forum of Nigeria, to amplify cancer as a public health issue,” the statement said. Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, consultant pediatrician, member of the UICC Board of Directors and founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation and member of National Cancer control committee said: “There has been notable progress globally in cancer care recently. High-income countries have seen drops in incidence and mortality rates for certain cancers. In low- and middle-income countries such as Nigeria, we have a played significant part in advocacy and awareness creation,
treatment support, palliative care and are seeing a promising increase in cancer control; as well as strategic moves by the Federal and State Governments towards the implementation of National Cancer Control Plans, expansion of the NHIS to cover some cancer surgeries and
chemotherapies.” She added, “The Nigerian Government and agencies must urgently make good their promise to introduce HPV Vaccines into our routine immunization packages”.

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