Medicaid holds cancer summit on Monday – survival, data generation to dominate discourse

Kebbi First Lady, Zainab Atiku Bagudu
Kebbi First Lady, Zainab Atiku Bagudu, addressing newsmen in Abuja

A leading non-governmental organisation in cancer advocacy in Nigeria, Medicaid Cancer Foundation, MCF, is organising it’s 2018 Annual Summit to develop a strategic framework for improving cancer data in the country.

Briefing newsmen on the summit, the Founder of the foundation and Wife of Kebbi State governor, Dr Zainab Bagudu, said the 3-day summit, which is slated to begin on Monday, December 10, is aimed at stimulating stakeholders and policymakers to policy formulation that improves cancer survivorship through accurate data tracking.

According to her, the summit themed: ‘Surveillance of Cancer Survival in Low Resource Settings’, would feature cancer awareness workshops, keynote speeches by renowned personalities like Professor Michel Coleman of London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and many other prominent cancer experts from across the country and beyond.

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However, Mrs Bagudu disclosed that the aim of the summit is not about creating awareness like most of its other programmes but a forum for academics, high-level policymakers, stakeholders, advocates, and influencers, to discuss and chat ways forward on cancer registration.

She added that the organizers hope to bring the issue of cancer registries to the attention of policymakers through the summit and to achieve some support for registries and fill the gaps where they are non-existent.

‘’Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is expected to be the special guest of honour, while Kebbi State governor Atiku Bagudu, wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, and wives of Nigerian governors would be the host and guest respectively,” she pointed out.

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Also speaking, the immediate past national coordinator of the cancer control programme of the Federal Ministry of Health, and a consultant to the foundation, Dr Ramatu Hassan, emphasised the importance of cancer registry across the country.

According to her, such practice enables the country to generate data to understand the types of cancer in an area, age range of those affected, the type of facility to situate there and type of health personnel to train there, among others.

She said this would ultimately enable the country to plan and provide quality cancer services. She said that one of the cancer registries set up in Kebbi State is population-based while the second is hospital based.

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Consultant radiologist and head of Medicaid Diagnostics centre, Dr Hyelakumi Ibrahim said the fight against cancer will be difficult without quality data, adding that data was key for planning on cancer control.

Speaking on ways to prevent the pandemic, Mr Ibrahim advised Nigerians to avoid tobacco in all its forms, including exposure to second-hand smoking to prevent cancer, adding that a healthy lifestyle could prevent the disease.

‘’Eat properly; reduce your consumption of saturated fat and red meat, which appears to increase the risk of colon and prostate cancers,” Mr Hyelakumi said.

National coordinator of the Medicaid Cancer Foundation, Dr Suraiya Mansur said the foundation creates awareness, provides training on cancer and has supported the treatment of over 600 cancer patients since inception.