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The honourable Minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire on the 24th of September, 2020, played host to top African Cancer Leaders in a webinar; African Cancer CEO’S Forum , with an objective to review the state of cancer control plans in Africa, propel African government on their commitments in cancer control with special focus on elimination of cervical cancer in Africa, mobilize global investments in cancer control, research and support for African organizations, engage African CEO’s of cancer control organizations to lead continental advocacies for cancer control.

The Minister in his welcome address unveiled plans by the Federal Government to commence routine HPV vaccination of adolescent girls in Nigeria by 2021. “All requirements to take delivery of HPV vaccine at such quantity as required by Nigeria have been met. The goal is to introduce Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine into the National Immunization scheme in 2021. The HPV vaccine is targeting prevention of cervical cancer in girls 9 -13years before their sexual debut/exposure.”                                                                                                                                   

Dr Ehanire who further commended cancer CEO’s, most notably Dr Shinkafi Bagudu for their advocacy, awareness creation and vaccination efforts, aimed at stemming the tide of cancer infection in Nigeria and across Africa also endorsed her UICC candidature. “I commend all African cancer CEOs who joined us today. I have seen Her Excellency Dr Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, the wife of the Executive Governor of Kebbi State and CEO/founder of Medicaid Cancer Foundation, leading a number of advocacies in Nigeria, Africa and globally. Indeed, Africans stood proud when she was she was elected into the prestigious Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) Board in 2018. I am aware that she has been shortlisted for a second term this year and I hope you shall all vote for her to continue the global advocacy.”

In her remark, Dr Zainab Shinkafi emphasized the need for proper funding and robust implementation of the National Control Plan as it will transform the cancer care landscape in Nigeria, delivering prevention and optimized cancer treatment programmes for Nigerians. She however expressed joy with the appropriation of N729, 861,797 to the Catastrophic Health Fund (CHF) in the 2020 budget to provide a path to treatment for indigent Nigerians diagnosed with breast, cervical and prostate cancers, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) funding the Lagos University Teaching (LUTH) Advanced Cancer Treatment Centre and also Federal Government’s commitment to include Human Papillomavirus vaccination into the routine immunization schedule in 2021.

The Director at the UICC reiterated her resolve to continue to hold steady the African torch in the global cancer space. “I pledge my time, efforts and resources to the goal of creating new narrative in awareness levels across the African continent. It is with this passion I will be seeking re-election to the Board of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) so that we can continue to keep cancer care priorities for Africa on the ‘front burner’ of the Union.”

The event which was a gathering of diverse African Cancer Leaders moderated by the Executive Director of Project Pinkblue, Runciee Chidebe and Dr Ophira  Ginsburg, Director High-Risk Cancer Genetics Programme, New York USA, centered on assessing the state of cancer control amidst Covid19. It featured contributions from Dr Nothemba (Nono) Simelela; Assistant Director-General for Family, Women, Children, Adolescents World Health Organization, President of the UICC; H.E Princess Dina Mired, Sen. Abubakar Atiku of Kebbi State, Dr Bello Abubakar, President of the African Organization for Training and Research in Cancer (AORTIC), Stanley Okolo; Director-General West African Health Organization, Elize Joubert; President of Cancer Society of South Africa, President of Zambian Cancer Society, Zambia; Udie Soko who analysed diverse cancer care policies put in place by the government of Zambia for patients and the goals recorded thus far, H.E Dr Amina A Bello; Chairperson of First Ladies Against Cancer and CEO/Founder, Raise Foundation, SM Gueye; Professor of Urology, University of Cheikh, Dakar Senegal, Christian Ntizimira; City Cancer Challenge Foundation, Ms Eniola Omoro Akintunde; Chairperson, Niola Cancer Care Foundation and Professor Sani Malami; President, Nigeria Cancer Society. 

The event drew curtains with commitment and a loud unanimous call for strategic investment into cancer care delivery, strengthened advocacy, and robust collaboration from leaders and policy makers across the African continent in addressing the global threat of cancer, especially in the light of WHO’s call for world leaders to end cervical cancer by the year 2030.

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