By Hassan Zaggi
The Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, has disclosed that plans have reached an advanced staged to include all forms of cancer care in the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
He disclosed this at a media briefing to mark the year 2021 World Cancer Day in Abuja, yesterday.
“To demonstrate government’s commitment to improving access to cancer care services, the Cancer Health Management Fund was established in the year 2020.
“We have already developed indigent Patients’ selection criteria, to ensure that only those who need the fund benefit from it.
“It is meant to compliment other patient assisted programmes like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) and the CAP programme.
“We are working out modalities to ensure that almost all cancer care services are covered by NHIS,” he stressed.
Ehanire however, applauded the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for their support and also urged all stakeholders involved in the fight against cancer to continue to support the effort of the government in trying to halt the spread of cancer in the country.
The Minister further vowed that the health ministry under his watch has been working and will continue to work out modalities of increasing cancer care in Nigeria.
“The Federal Ministry of Health under my watch continues to improve access to cancer care services especially in Diagnosis, chemotherapy and Radiotherapy services.
“We are currently improving radiotherapy services in hospitals across the country. Installation of radiotherapy machines is at advanced stages in UNTH Enugu, UBTH Benin, UDUTH Sokoto, UCH Ibadan and ABUTH Zaria. There have been delays caused by the covid-19 pandemic.
“I approved inclusion of 12 additional hospitals in the ongoing “Cancer Access Partnership” Programme to improve access to chemotherapy at over 50% cost reduction and increase the number of hospitals offering the service from 7 in 2020 to 18 as at today.
“The CAP programme improved from 9 molecules from 1 manufacturer to 20 products in 29 formulations from 3 manufacturers,” he said.
The Minister revealed that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led federal government is currently intensifying efforts to ensure wider availability and accessibility of Human Papilloma Virus vaccine through the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) in 2021.
This, according to him, is to target young girls and boys (9-13 years old) to eliminate Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), known to be responsible for over 70% of Cervical Cancer cases.