Nigerian government not Committed to Fighting Cancer – Cancer Activist

Cancer control advocate and the Executive Director,Project Pink Blue, Runcie Chidebe, has decried the lip service Nigerian government show to fighting cancer among it’s citizens. He lamented that Nigeria has very low budget for cancer care, cancer awareness programmes and lacks the necessary modern facilities to diagnose and treat all forms of cancer…..

In his words:

“The health of Nigerians is in the hands of foreign donors, not in the hands of Nig. govt. nor Nigerians If donors withdraw their funding, we are all gone.

– No single PET scan in Nigeria

– SGF need to gazette bill for Institute of Cancer treatment.


In an exclusive interview with the Premium Times, I discussed critical issues facing cancer control in Nigeria and what Nigerian government can do to mitigate the challenges. We cannot continue to celebrate World Cancer Day without commitment backed with action.

Nigerian government not Committed to Fighting Cancer
Nigerian government not Committed to Fighting Cancer – Runcie (middle)

Nigeria is currently having challenges in its healthcare because the health system is unhealthy and cancer is more affected. Maybe the question should not be about more cancer patients being detected because anyone who already has the risk of having cancer already has it.

The only remarkable experience was the launching, beautiful and expensive launching. After the launching nothing else. The government needs to walk the talk. Nigeria has the highest cancer burden on the African continent. How can a country like Nigeria be giving four per cent of its entire budget to health when other countries like Rwanda and Botswana have increased their own to 13 per cent and 15 per cent and the Abuja Declaration that we all stand upon was actually made in Abuja, in Nigeria. And this is about 10 years after the declaration was made.

Nigeria Government needs to invest in cancer control. If the federal government gets committed to cancer control and gives it all necessary resources, we will emerge the West African hub for cancer treatments.

Thanks to President @MBuhari for signing the bill to establish the National Institute on Cancer Research, Treatment and other connected purposes on December 29, 2017. However, three years now, the bill is yet to be gazetted and budgeted.

But detecting it on time is an increased avenue for survival, not detecting it on time because of the fear of having more cancer patients. It is a problem because it will still be detected and by then it may be at a very late stage. Painfully, the cancer control desk is under-funded. In some cases, the funds are budgeted and not released. Clearly, cancer control is not a priority for the government.

The health of Nigerians is in the hands of foreign donors, not in the hands of Nigerian government nor the Nigerians themselves. If foreign donors withdraw their funding from Nigeria’s healthcare, we are all gone.

We can say that many Nigerians are aware of cancer, no doubt, but the challenge is that so many Nigerians do not have accurate awareness about cancer. These are two different issues. Being aware of the disease called cancer and having accurate information about the disease.

The funding for health care is extremely poor, same is applicable to cancer control. We cannot make a difference in cancer control if we do not increase funding for health care. As from 2015 – 2018, N2.3billion has been budgeted for cancer control. But we really don’t know what has been released or used for cancer control.

In 2018, Nigerian government launched the National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022) and stated that Nigeria needs N97billion ($308million) to fight cancer for the next five years. Shamefully, nothing remarkable has been done from the cancer control plan. Millions of Nigerians know that there is a disease that can affect a woman and once it affects a woman, the breast goes off and the person dies.

We need to demystify cancer in Nigeria. Cancer is still a mystery to many people in Nigeria, including the literate and illiterate. You can’t believe that I was wearing a cancer T-shirt and somebody was asking me to stay away with that T-shirt! Can you imagine?

The government must show commitment in the fight against cancer by increasing the funding for this deadly disease.”



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