By Iyemah David
The Africa Health Budget Network (AHBN) is committed to fighting cancer out of Nigeria, the group’s Programme Delivery and Francophone Africa Liaison Officer, Ms Amina Haladu Mohammed, said.
She stated this on Monday when the newly elected executives of the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHeJ) paid an advocacy visit to the AHBN building in Abuja.
Ms Mohammed said that AHBN, a network of organisations and individuals using budget advocacy to improve health service delivery in Africa, has made significant strides in raising awareness and support for better cancer care in the country.
She said that with a deep understanding of the challenges faced by Nigerians in accessing quality healthcare, AHBN had been at the forefront of efforts to combating cancer and improving the lives of those affected.
She added that “Nigeria, like many countries, face numerous challenges in providing adequate cancer care.
“Limited access to quality healthcare and cancer screening facilities, coupled with shortage of specialised oncologists, result to delayed diagnoses and higher mortality rates.
“Financial burdens associated with cancer care has also placed a significant strain on individuals and families, making it difficult to afford necessary treatments and medications.
“Moreover, the stigma surrounding cancer, emotional toll and reduced productivity further exacerbate the challenges faced by patients.”
She, however, said that AHBN had achieved remarkable milestones in its fight against cancer in the country, identifying the hosting of the interim secretariat of the Nigeria Cancer Society as key accomplishment.
She said “this role has allowed AHBN to collaborate closely with experts, organisations and individuals dedicated to tackling cancer comprehensively.
“AHBN provided technical advice and reviewed the Nigeria Institute for Cancer Treatment and Research (NICRAT) strategic plan and advocacy for the relocation of the Cancer Health Fund budget line from Federal Ministry of Health to NICRAT.”
She explained that the move was to enhance coordination, alignment and effective utilisation of financial resources.
According to her, the group, through advocacy for the inclusion of cancer services in health insurance coverage, pressed for the incorporation of cancer services into the National Health Insurance Authority’s minimum package.
“The network also revised operational manual, ensuring that cancer care is accessible to all,” she said.
Aside the fact that the organisation recognised the significance of community involvement, she officer said, “it provides technical support and financial aid to Non-Government Organisations dedicated to cancer awareness and advocacy in the country.
“These efforts empower communities and amplify the impact of the fight against cancer.
“AHBN initiated the Africa Access Initiative, engaging bio ventures for a global health subsidiary in Africa., an initiative to build partnerships that will enhance access to improved cancer services, including drugs, infrastructure and clinical care.”
The officer, who said that AHBN’s efforts extended beyond advocacy and support, added that “we have been champions of health financing advocacy, working to secure necessary funding for comprehensive cancer services.
“AHBN is determined to tackle the challenges posed by cancer and create a brighter future for all Nigerians.”