Mrs. Toyin Saraki

By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja

The federal government will partner with the wife of the Senate President and Founder-President of Wellbeing Foundation Africa, Mrs. Toyin Saraki, as well as other stakeholders in the recently launched National Cancer Control Plan.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, disclosed this at the weekend when the Wellbeing Foundation Africa hosted a stakeholders’ meeting to review the Rapid Assessment of the Prevention and Control of Cancer in Nigeria report.

Other stakeholders in the health sector who were at the meeting include the Vice-Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Clifford Odiar; the West Africa Regional Director, Amref, Dr. Sylla Thiam; the Country Director, Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson and Johnson, Mitchelle Akande; amongst other distinguished medical practitioners.

Ehanire commended the ex-Kwara State First Lady’s efforts in the health sector in Nigeria, which supports the programme of the Ministry of Health in cancer prevention and other challenges.

To this end, he said the ministry would be collaborating with local and international stakeholders including the Wellbeing Foundation Africa for cancer treatment and prevention.

He said: “The Federal Ministry of Health, in line with the current push of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led govedrnment, plans to work to strengthen the training of cancer-related healthcare workers, as well as improve infrastructure and strengthen service delivery for cancer care, including prevention and palliative care.

“We welcome inter-sectoral collaborations, as well as partnerships with local and global stakeholders in order to improve awareness and information on preventive practices, as well as encouraging early diagnosis and management of all cancers.”

Earlier, Saraki noted that the Rapid Assessment of the Prevention and Control of Cancer in Nigeria report is a collaborative study undertaken by the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, with support from Amref Health Africa with inputs from various stakeholders operating within the health sector.

Saraki who was recently named by Devex as a Global UHC Champion; Global Goodwill Ambassador for the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and Special Adviser to the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa (AFRO), assure commitment to the National Cancer Control Plan.

She called for engagement with the people to stop high-risk behaviours and awareness for early cancer detection as well as information on effective treatment.

She said: “I want to thank everyone who has made this event possible, and I believe that those of us present can harness our wealth of knowledge to key into the National Cancer Control Plan, which was launched just last week. We must teach our people and engage them to stop high risk behaviours, and to be best positioned to detect cancer at the early stage, when it is most cost-effective to treat.

“The biggest challenge in development is transforming global goals and national goals into grassroots actions. I would want to quote Margaret Meade in saying ‘we must never doubt the power of a small group of people united with a common purpose’; and our purpose is to prevent cancer, detect cancer, and provide infrastructure to be able to respond to the needs of our people in relation to all types of cancer. I would like to again thank everyone present; Amref Health Africa for your partnership and the Federal Ministry of Health for giving civil society such a role in taking the traction from what you have begun.”

Also speaking, the West Africa Regional Director, Amref Health Africa, Dr. Sylla Thiam, commended the Wellbeing Foundation Africa “for carrying out such an important study. The timing is very apt as the disease has taken a toll on the country.”