The Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE, Runcie Chidebe, has said poor cancer research in Nigeria could be responsible for poor cancer management including the rising cancer deaths.
Chidebe, who made this known in a press statement made available to our correspondent, however, said Nigeria could make progress in cancer control if it invested in cancer research.
While quoting from a study titled, ‘Cancer research across Africa: a comparative bibliometric analysis,’ he said, “Of the 23,679 cancer research papers published in different peer-reviewed journals by African scientists and academics over a 12-year period, only 5,281 were from sub-Saharan Africa and Nigeria’s contribution were only 997, that is, 19 per cent of the SSA total and four per cent of entire Africa.
“Clearly, Nigeria contributed only 19 per cent of the entire cancer research in sub-Saharan Africa and only four per cent of the cancer research in Africa. For a country with over 200 million people with 120,000 cancer incidences and 72,000 cancer deaths, which is the highest cancer burden in the whole of Africa, Nigeria’s contribution to cancer research is poor and does not reflect any progress.”
He noted that the NGO, with support from ACT Foundation and in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health, was implementing the Upgrade Oncology Programme, a Nigeria-US science and technology exchange programme, which seeks to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian oncology workforce through training in diverse oncology areas.
This, he said, involved clinical oncologists, oncology pharmacists, nurses, pathologists, and other caregivers along the cancer care spectrum.
Chidebe added, “This programme has been ongoing since 2018, as our support to the Federal Government’s National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022). In 2018, Project PINK BLUE brought two US-based Fulbright specialists to train 44 clinical oncologists from different facilities across Nigeria in medical oncology with a focus on leukaemia, breast, prostate, and childhood cancers.
“In 2021, 36 oncology pharmacists were drawn from 24 facilities across Nigeria and were trained by two US Fulbright specialists in chemotherapy reconstitution, handling, and patient counselling. This year, 50 pathologists will be trained by US Fulbright specialists to support accuracy in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management.
“To achieve the overall objective of Upgrade Oncology, Project PINK BLUE conducts an annual training alongside the major programme for health workers drawn from primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions on different aspects of cancer management. This year, we are focusing on cancer research.”