Improving standard of cancer care in Nigeria

Unaffordable and inaccessible cancer care

In 2020, almost 125,000 people were diagnosed with cancer in Nigeria and almost 79,000 died from the disease. The most common type of cancer found in adults in the country is breast cancer. About half of women diagnosed with breast cancer die from it. Prostate cancer and cervical cancer follow closely

Medical insurance in Nigeria does not cover cancer care comprehensively. Many people with cancer begin their medical treatment but must stop because they cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs for their cancer care. Some people consider cancer as 'an illness for the rich or a death sentence' because the cost of treatment is so high. There are only ten radiation therapy machines available for all people with cancer across the country.

Improving access and quality of cancer care

In Nigeria, in the first quarter of 2020, Roche led a private-sector coalition which, with the support of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), led to the creation of the Nigerian Cancer Health Fund. The objective of this Fund is to provide standard of care cancer treatment to underprivileged populations regardless of their ability to pay and to strengthen the national cancer care ecosystem by improving quality of services.

In November 2021, the Nigeria National HealthScheme and Roche signed a Memorandum of Understanding, aimed at improving patients’ access to innovative cancer medicines. The partnership is being piloted in designated centers across the country.

In this pilot phase, the Cancer Health Fund provides access to funding of up to 2 million naira (approximately $4,865) for medication, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy services for people with breast, cervical, and prostate cancers in six (6) public health institutions, one (1) in each geo-political zone of the country.

The Nigeria Cancer Healthto ensure the affordability of drugs for patients at treatment centers and is a key part of the nation’s efforts to

A stronger and more affordable cancer care ecosystem

Approximately 84% of Nigerians are from lower-income groups that are particularly poor, vulnerable and indigent. Under the MOU, the Nigeria National Health Insurance Scheme has agreed to a cost sharing model and will contribute a part of the cost of oncology drugs. Roche has agreed to contribute as well so that patients will pay only a relatively small part of the total cost of a medicine. As a result of the newly established Cancer Health Fund, Nigerians may now spend as little as 20 percent of their income on cancer treatment and management.

Since 2020, approximately $4 million USD has been allocated, offering the potential to provide comprehensive care for people with breast, prostate, and cervical cancers. This programme is a positive example of how cross-collaboration between public and private sectors can lead to beneficial outcomes for society, and we look forward to its expansion to benefit more patients in the future.

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