FG Unveils New Initiative to Slash Cost of Cancer Treatment by 50%

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Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The federal government yesterday launched an innovative public-private partnership (PPP) to ensure affordable access to high quality chemotherapies in seven teaching hospitals across the country.

Speaking during the unveiling of the novel initiative, the Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunibe Mamora, said innovative partnership was to deliver life-saving chemotherapies for cancer treatment to seven teaching hospitals throughout the country.

He said as a result of the partnership, Nigerians are expected to save up to 50 percent of their treatment costs, enabling thousands of additional patients to access care.

According to him, “This new programme known as the Chemotherapy Access Partnership between the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI), the American Cancer Society (ACS), Pfizer, Inc., Worldwide Healthcare, and EMGE Resources, Limited will enable people with cancer in Nigeria to access lower-priced, high-quality treatments at hospital pharmacies.”

Mamora explained that medications available under the programme are of the same quality as those that would be received by patients in the United States, Europe, Canada, Japan and Australia.

The initiative has been rolled out in seven university teaching hospitals-

Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital; Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital; Lagos University Teaching Hospital; National Hospital Abuja; Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital; University College Hospital lbadan, and University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu.

According to the minister, the partnership will provide immediate payment to participating pharmaceutical companies and drug distributors to ensure sustainability of the system and routine stock replacement.

He further said: “The agreement will enable Nigeria and other African Governments to double the number of patients being treated with the same resources and reduce catastrophic expenditure for patients paying out-of pocket by reducing complexity in the distribution process, stabilising prices, coordinating orders, streamlining registration of products approved by a stringent regulatory authority, and promoting the entry of international suppliers with a range of quality-assured products.”

While launching the initiative, the minister added: “What started as a dream on paper two years ago has come to reality today. Today, we launch a pioneering programme to save our people from what is becoming a global epidemic. Today, we launch the Chemotherapy Access Partnership in Nigeria to improve access to affordable and quality chemotherapy medicines.

“The programme is built on two groundbreaking access agreements announced by CHAI and ACS with Pfizer and Cipla in 2017 to reduce the price of 16 priority and quality-assured medicines by almost 50 percent in six countries in Africa-Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. These countries account for 42 percent of the cancer burden in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The initiative will help treat cancers with the highest incidence in Africa, including breast, cervical, Kaposi Sarcoma, colorectal and prostate cancer.

“Each year, there are one million new cases and 700,000 deaths from cancer in Africa. Deaths from cancer have surpassed those from malaria and tuberculosis on the continent and are expected to double.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that there are over 100,000 cases and 70,000 deaths due to cancer each year in some part of Africa.

On his part, the Executive Vice President for West and Central Africa and Nigeria, CHAI Country Director, Dr. Owens Wiwa, stated that: “We are pleased today to have worked under the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Health and the teaching hospitals together with other partners to bring this agreement to reality in Nigeria. We, however, hope more patients will access these highest quality treatments.”

He said the American Cancer Society was pleased to partner the Clinton Health Access Initiative and the federal ministry of health on the important project to improve access to life-saving cancer medicines.