Aisha Buhari urges IAEA to change cancer narrative in Nigeria, Africa
March 23, 2022
Nigeria’s First Lady Aisha Buhari has urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to change the cancer narrative in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
The call is contained in a statement issued by her Special Assistant on Media, Mr Aliyu Abdullahi.
Buhari made the call when she received a delegation from the IAEA led by the Chairman, Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Prof. Yusuf Ahmed in Abuja.
She commended the IAEA for launching the ‘Rays of Hope’ initiative.
The initiative was launched to increase access to radiotherapy for cancer patients in low to middle-income countries that have the highest cancer rates and lowest rates in screening, diagnosis, therapy, and treatment.
“I am particularly happy with the visit because of my involvement in cancer advocacy which exposed me to identify gaps in the sector.
“I, therefore, call on the IAEA to do more to reduce the casualty figures of cancer in Africa.
“Advocacy for cancer therapy is important because most patients who can afford proper cancer treatment usually travel abroad to get it, while the majority of patients, who are unable, remain with little or no management care,” she said.
The first lady expressed optimism that ‘Rays of Hope’ will change the narrative on the cancer situation not only in Nigeria but Africa in general.
“My foundation, in collaboration with some development partners, had done a lot in the area of healthcare delivery through medical outreaches across Nigeria and I would like to leave a lasting legacy in that regard,” she added.
She, therefore, promised to support IAEA in cancer advocacy.
In his remark, the NAEC Chairman, Prof. Yusuf Ahmed, told the first lady that the IAEA which is working hand-in-hand with his commission were in the state house to intimate her on the work of the Agency in the area of peaceful use of atomic energy.
Ahmed said, especially in nuclear medicine and the support they provided to countries in implementing their nuclear science and technology agenda.
He said that the Agency was not unaware of the gain strides made by the Aisha Buhari Foundation in the area of health advocacy in Nigeria.
The Director, Technical Corporation, IAEA, Prof. Shaukat Abdurrazak, said that the Rays of Hope is an initiative of the IAEA that focuses on high impact, cost-effective, and sustainable interventions in line with national needs and commitment of a particular country.
Abdurrazak said, with more than 19 million new cases and 10 million deaths in 2020, the cancer disease places its heaviest burden on low- and middle-income countries with over 70 per cent of cancer deaths.
He said that for over 60 years, the agency had assisted many countries to establish and strengthen safe, secure and effective radiation medicine in terms of radiotherapy, radiology, and nuclear medicine capabilities.
The IAEA director, therefore, urged the first lady to use her position as the President of African first ladies and sustained the advocacy against the spread of cancer, especially in the area of investment and government co-sharing.
He also appealed to the first lady to intervene in addressing the bureaucratic bottlenecks associated with the importation of cancer equipment in Nigeria.