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Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health to Launch Pilot Cancer Drug Access Program

The Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria (Federal Ministry of Health) and BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) convened a Cancer Stakeholder meeting last week under the auspices of BVGH’s African Access Initiative (AAI) to finalize plans for a

The Federal Ministry of Health of Nigeria (Federal Ministry of Health) and BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) convened a Cancer Stakeholder meeting last week under the auspices of BVGH’s African Access Initiative (AAI) to finalize plans for a pilot cancer drug access program to combat Nigeria’s rapidly rising cancer burden. The Federal Ministry of Health will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP) to pharmaceutical companies to kick-start the program.

Participants included Nigeria’s Honorable Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, and the National Cancer Control Director, Dr. David Atuwo. Also in attendance were the Chief Medical Directors and oncologists from eight select teaching and AAI-affiliated hospitals across Nigeria, representatives from Nigerian federal agencies overseeing drug registration and importation, and eminent cancer experts from the United States.

“As Nigeria’s Minister of Health and an oncologist, I have personally witnessed the devastation that cancer has caused our citizens, and I will marshal all the resources of my office to prevent further needless suffering and death,” said Professor Adewole. “Collaborating with BVGH and leading academic and industry partners, including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Pfizer, and Takeda, is critical for saving Nigerian cancer patients’ lives.”

Earlier this year, the Minister of Health led the launch of Nigeria’s National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP) 2018-2022, aimed at reducing the incidence and prevalence of cancer and improving outcomes nationwide. The Federal Ministry of Health, along with 16 hospitals across the country, are partnering with BVGH through AAI to meet the NCCP’s targets.

AAI is a global consortium of companies, African governments, healthcare providers, and non-profit organizations focused on sustainably expanding access to cancer medicines and technologies, improving healthcare infrastructure, and building clinical and research capacity in Africa.

“AAI is driven by Africa, for Africa,” stated BVGH President Jennifer Dent. “Our approach focuses on establishing sustainable partnerships based on collaboration, mutual respect, understanding, and the common goal of improving cancer patient outcomes in Africa.”

The pilot cancer drug access program addresses the NCCP’s objective of increasing the availability of lifesaving oncology medications. The Federal Ministry of Health developed a list of priority oncology drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration to treat five of the most common cancers in Nigeria (breast, cervical, colorectal, liver, and prostate). During the cancer stakeholders’ meeting, the oncology teams added pediatric and head & neck cancers to this list.

With the support and guidance of the Minister of Health and his administration, BVGH conducted needs assessments of Nigerian hospitals to quantify the demand for the priority drugs and understand current treatment protocols. The results of the needs assessments represent the first comprehensive data set on cancer medication usage by Nigerian oncologists.

Outcomes of the two-day planning and consultation meeting in Abuja with chief medical directors, oncologists, pharmacists, nurses, and procurement managers included alignment on common treatment regimens and drugs; use of guidelines in development for the safe and appropriate delivery of the priority drugs; establishment of expedited drug registration, importation, and distribution processes; and creation of mentorship linkages between Nigerian and American oncologists.

The Federal Ministry of Health will next release an RFP, inviting selected manufacturers of the priority drugs to outline the terms by which they could provide safe, sustainable, and affordable access to their medicines through the pilot program. Following the completion of the pilot program, the Federal Ministry of Health and BVGH intend to scale up the initiative to serve more cancer patients across Nigeria.

About BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH)

BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH) is a non-profit organization working at the crossroads of the private and public sectors to advance research and improve health. BVGH connects people, resources, and ideas across biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, governments, and non-profits to solve global health issues. For more information about BVGH, please visit http://www.bvgh.org/.

obavee@gmail.com

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