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M. D. Anderson Collaborates with Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria

Cancer conference in Abuja, Nigeria leads to first-of-its kind effort to reduce cancer health disparities among Nigerian and Nigerian-American populations

M. D. Anderson News Release 02/15/07
In a first-of-its-kind trans-Atlantic effort to address cancer disparities among Nigerian and Nigerian-American populations, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, the Health Disparities Education, Awareness, Research & Training Consortium (HDEART) and the Ministry of Health of the Federal Republic of Nigeria today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), forming a partnership to collaborate on cancer research, education and training programs in Nigeria.

The agreement was the result of the first cancer conference held in Abuja, Nigeria during October 2006; one of several events marking Nigeria's first National Cancer Awareness Month (October). A delegation from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and other US institutions, led by its Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH), joined representatives from the Ministry of Health, National Hospital, the Nigerian Medical Community, Nigerian Medical Association (Abuja Branch), Nigerian Teaching and other Tertiary care hospitals and the Nigerian Cancer Society to discuss cancer management, early detection and prevention of common cancers, and public education and awareness-building campaigns.

"The Nigerian government's commitment to raising awareness of cancer and addressing cancer issues in West Africa, as evidence by the signing of the MOU, is a critical cornerstone event to begin unraveling cancer and other health-related disparities, particularly diseases affecting Nigerians and African-Americans who share the same genetic heritage," said Dr. Lovell Jones, Director of The Center for Research on Minority Health at M. D. Anderson's Department of Health Disparities Research.

With a large percentage of African-Americans tracing their ancestry to Nigeria and surrounding West African nations, and Houston serving as home to the largest population of Nigerians in the United States, there is "a natural share and learn partnership between M. D. Anderson, one of the world's preeminent cancer research and patient care centers, and Nigeria," Dr. Jones said.

The conference in Nigeria was the first event emerging from efforts by M. D. Anderson's Center for Research on Minority Health (CRMH) to establish a collaborative program to reduce health disparities in underserved Nigerian and Nigerian-American populations. In recognition of the event, the government of Nigeria proclaimed October as National Cancer Awareness Month and created a National Consultative Committee on Cancer, headed by Professor Francis A Durosinmi-Etti, a prominent Radiation Oncologist in Nigeria, and comprised of Nigerian physicians, scientists and advocates from teaching hospitals, medical centers and non-governmental organizations.  Following the conference, several healthcare workers, including a physician assistant and nurses from M. D  Anderson Cancer Center along with nurses from Nigeria, embarked on a week-long community education tour across Nigeria, hosting local events to share important cancer prevention information.

"Cancer as a public health issue facing Nigerians has certainly been addressed before, but the level of international collaboration and support we've achieved with this new partnership is unprecedented and a remarkable achievement," said Dr. Durosinmi-Etti.

Conference speakers addressed such issues as: the state of cancer management in Nigeria, prevalent cancers in Nigeria (including breast, prostate, leukemia/lymphoma and cervical); public education needs; nuclear medicine; and areas for possible research collaborations. The partners also expect to set a long-term agenda for the Nigerian National Cancer Control Program and to advance planning for a larger Pan-African Conference to take place in West Africa by October 2008.

M. D. Anderson's partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health in Nigeria is the most recent of numerous international alliances formed to further the eradication of cancer worldwide through scientific discovery, advanced patient therapies, education and prevention. During the past two years, the Cancer Center has collaborated with leading international cancer research and clinical institutions, and ministries of health in The United Kingdom, France and The Republic of China.

The CRMH at M. D. Anderson was established in 2000 and is the only Congressionally-mandated center focused on minority health outside of the federal government. It is also a national leader in advancing minority cancer care, awareness, research, education and prevention; one of the National Center for Minority Health & Health Disparities' Centers of Excellence. Within the Department of Health Disparities Research at M. D. Anderson, the mission is to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, disparities in cancer incidence, mortality and cancer-related behavior, through research and education addressing the determinants of disparities, as well as interventions and policies designed to eliminate disparities.

The Health Disparities Education, Awareness, Research & Training (HDEART) Consortium housed in the CRMH and Chaired by Dr. Nancy Dickey, president of Texas A & M Health Science Center, brings together over 20 academic and health care institutions in the United States and Mexico to develop programs that address the issue of health disparities in minority and medically underserved populations.

The Cancer Conference in Nigera was funded by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Research Foundation, the National Cancer Institute and Nigeria's Federal Ministry of Health.

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center