National Cancer Act: 10th House moves to make diagnosis, treatment easier


The House of Representatives has expressed readiness to harness legislative measures towards making cancer diagnosis as well as treatment, easier and cheaper for Nigerians.

Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Abbas Tajudeen PhD, made this known on Thursday, in Abuja, at a Seminar for First Ladies from Member Countries of the Africa Group of the Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).

Speaker Abbas, who described cancer as one of the biggest health challenges on the continent, listed lack of infrastructure, inadequate personnel, late diagnosis, and high cost of treatment as part of the factors frustrating early detection and treatment of cancer.

“Cancer remains one of our most formidable health challenges, particularly in Africa,” he remarked.

He further noted that the gathering, which was focused on the crucial issue of cancer, stood as a testament to the collective commitment of the nations to combat the devastating disease.

“As representatives of the people, we in the 10th House of Representatives recognise our role in the fight against cancer. The House will work with the First Lady, Her Excellency, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, to enact a National Cancer Act to reduce cancer mortality through comprehensive measures, including the promotion of cancer screening, early diagnosis, treatment advancements, and palliative care.

“It will also guarantee greater investments in cancer care infrastructure and provide a framework for establishing and strengthening comprehensive cancer treatment centres across the country. A critical aspect of the proposed legislation will be a Cancer Drugs Fund to ensure that more patients benefit from cutting-edge treatments,” he said.

He also listed the lack of health insurance, low awareness and educational gaps about cancer prevention and early detection as key factors resulting in high mortality rates and diminished quality of life.

“Financial barriers, such as the high cost of treatment and lack of health insurance, exacerbate the situation, leaving many unable to afford necessary care.

“Additionally, low awareness and educational gaps about cancer prevention and early detection further hinder timely intervention. The combination of these factors results in high mortality rates and diminished quality of life, underscoring the urgent need for comprehensive strategies to address cancer,” he added.

In his remarks, the Speaker highlighted several efforts by the Nigerian Government to combat cancer and alleviate the challenges faced by individuals living with the disease.

He thereafter enumerated the Act establishing the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment (NICRAT), the National Strategic Cancer Control Plan (2023-2027) as part of these efforts.. He also outlined other efforts to include increased funding for cancer treatment centres, greater public awareness and partnerships with international organisations.

In commending the First Lady of Nigeria, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, for convening and hosting the important seminar, Speaker Abbas noted that her tireless efforts and unwavering dedication to the health and well-being of Nigerian citizens, particularly the vulnerable, are truly commendable.

“Despite these measures, significant gaps remain, particularly in reaching the poorest and most vulnerable populations, highlighting the ongoing need for sustained investment and comprehensive policy implementation,” the Speaker stressed.

According to him, the First Lady has not only united the First Ladies of OIC member countries, but also created a platform for collaboration, knowledge sharing, and strategic action against cancer.

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