The 2018 World Cancer Congress organized by the Union for International Cancer Control(2018) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia has elected 12 new board members to serve a two year term. For the first time, a Nigerian, Her Excellency Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, will serve on the board of the 85 year old organization which, exists to accelerate the global fight against cancer.
The wife of the governor of Kebbi State won the election with strong backing and support from her husband Sen. Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, the wife of the Nigerian President Her Excellency Haj Aisha Buhari, as well as the Honourable Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Health- Geoffrey Onyeama, Khadija Abba Ibrahim and Prof Isaac Adewole.
Dr Bagudu is a Paediatrician in addition to being the Founder of Nigerian NGO- Medicaid Cancer Foundation. Her nomination was based on her work in creating awareness, improving early diagnosis and raising funds for cancer patients in the country.
Her election to the UICC Board is expected to give traction, harness global opportunities, and build local capacities to combat cancer. In her profile obtained from UICC, she stated that she hoped to use experience garnered from grassroots mobilization in her state, to reach global commitments to reduce premature deaths from Non-communicable diseases (NCD) premature deaths by 25% (by the year 2025).
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, UICC has a membership of over 1000 organizations across 160 countries. It partners with bodies such as United Nations, International Atomic Energy Agency, World Economic Forum and others to tackle cancer on a global scale.
This year alone, nearly 8 million people will die of cancer and if left unchecked, the number of deaths will increase to 13.2 million per year by 2030. Africa with its problems of poor awareness, late diagnosis and limited access to treatment bears the burden of cancer.
The president of the Nigerian Cancer Society, Prof Sani Mallami describes her election as a breakthrough for Low and Middle Income Countries and called for the urgent implementation of the National Cancer Control plan launched in 2018.
Also at the 2018 congress, Project Pink Blue another Nigerian NGO won the World Cancer Day Spirit award for its event on 4th February. Other bodies present in Malaysia were Breast without spots, Cancer aware, Niola, Dorcas, Raise, Leah and Access to Basic Medical Care.