Nigeria now stands a chance to cut its $30m annual expenditure on cancer treatment following a new partnership between the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and critical oncology stakeholders to improve overall patient outcomes in cancer care.
The authority gathered medical professionals from various Nigerian tertiary hospitals and collaborators from foreign institutes, including the University of Chicago, American Oncology Institute India, and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (‘ASCO’) at the maiden Oncology Summit in Lagos to brainstorm on solutions to the disease.
Experts from the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Bio Ventures for Global Health, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centre, American Association of Physicists in Medicine, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre were also present.
Aminu Umar-Sadiq, the managing director, said “The summit is an important first step in bringing together key oncology stakeholders to enhance the quality of cancer care in Nigeria”, according to an official statement.
The partnership ultimately aims to crush barriers to oncology care in the country, identifying possible solutions to address them, and retention plans for home-grown talent.
The rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as cancer has increasingly made healthcare an investment focus for the NSIA.
According to the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), Nigeria spends an estimated N12 billion ($30 million) on cancer treatment every year.
Data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) NCD country profile for Nigeria shows cancers account for four out of 29 percent of all deaths caused by NCDs.
It is also the leading cause of death among women in Nigeria, accounting for 28 percent of all deaths among women, according to the National Cancer Registry. The most common cancers in Nigeria are breast cancer, cervical cancer, and liver cancer.
The incidence in Nigeria is increasing due to an aging population expected to double by 2050; changing lifestyle and the lack of early detection and screening.
As a result, the NSIA Healthcare Development Investment Company was set up to address medical infrastructure gaps, develop strategic collaborations to improve patient care and enhance the talent pool of medical professionals.
In 2019, the authority established the NSIA–LUTH Cancer Centre (‘NLCC’), a comprehensive out-patient oncology centre that has attended to over 10,000 unique cancer patients.
The Authority also invested in two diagnostic projects co-located within the Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital and Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia.
It is in the process of scaling these interventions, with three additional Oncology centres, 23 additional diagnostic centres and seven catheterisation laboratories across the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria.
NSIA’s wholly-owned medical services portfolio company, Medserve, has been set up to implement these projects, according to the statement.
In addition, the NSIA has set up another subsidiary called Equilease Systems Limited to offer alternative financial solutions to care providers, ease the burden of high acquisition and maintenance costs of modern medical equipment through strategic partnerships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).
Medserve and Equilease will jointly allow the NSIA to be the largest provider of medical infrastructure in Nigeria.