The Federal Government have announced a plan to build six new cancer treatment centres in six tertiary healthcare facilities across Nigeria.

It also blamed the exit of pharmaceutical companies from Nigeria was due to the non-domestication of their products in the country.

The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Tunji Alausa, disclosed in Abuja, on Monday, at a World Cancer Day Symposium with the theme: “Economy, Tax and Cancer Control: The Exit of Pharmaceutical Companies from Nigeria” organized by Project Pink Blue.

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Alausa said, the cancer treatment centres would be built in the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu; Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaira; Federal Tertiary Hospital, Katsina; University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin; University of Jos Teaching Hospital, Jos; and Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos

Alausa further disclosed that the treatment centre was evenly allocated to the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria to enable improved and quick access to cancer response and treatment.

He said that N20bn has been secured for the construction of the cancer centres within the next three years. “Sadly, the value of the money has depreciated because of the rising inflation. There is no way we could use the N20bn to build the cancer centres because the value has dropped significantly.

“We had to make a presentation to the President and the National Assembly to give us additional budgetary allocation to build the six cancer centres. We have gotten the additional funding that we need. The groundbreaking will happen in the next few weeks.”

Alausa also dismissed reports making the rounds that the reason behind pharmaceutical companies’ exit from Nigeria was because of difficulty in doing business, stating emphatically that it was not the case.

“We have to change this narrative of companies leaving our country because of the difficulty of doing business, that’s not correct. Let’s face the fact, Nigeria is endowed with an abundance of manpower.

“If you go to any advanced democratic nation, the biggest chunk of any operating cost to run a business is personnel, we have it in abundance in Nigeria, at a very reasonable and cheap rate.

“These pharmaceutical companies left because we have pharmaceutical laws. There’s a NAFDAC policy of 5+5, after you have marketed drugs for five years, they are expected to domesticate their production.

Also speaking during the panel discussion, the Director General, Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), Dr. Yau Usman Idris, stressed the need for the government to prioritize healthcare in the country, saying it is not possible to treat over 200million population with the kind of equipment available in the country.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director, Project Pink Blue, Runcie Chidebe, in his remarks, advocated improved funding for the fight against cancer in Nigeria, as well as coordinated efforts to achieve more results.

He appreciated the efforts and commitment of several stakeholders involved in cancer response in Nigeria and suggested a policy that could result in a reduction in the cost of cancer treatment in Nigeria.

He appealed to the stakeholders that made several commitments during World Cancer Day, to back up their promises with action so there could be improved results and indices in the next year’s event.

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