Saturday, 8 March 2014

Nigerian Youths and the Cancer Fight;a Project Pink Initiative..

Project PINK is a personal community development service project by Corps member Runcie C.W.  Chidebe, on Breast & Cervical Cancer awareness and free screening. Project Pink is a bottom-top action-based project that is primarily focused on reducing the incidence of cancer in Nigeria,
championed by youths.
We want every man and woman in Nigeria to be breast and cervical cancer aware, because when cancer affects a woman, the man and the family will be affected psychologically and otherwise. Screenings costs about N3,000-N11,000 in radio-diagnostics centres and hospitals depending on screening type, but, we are giving all these screenings free of charge. It is an initiative powered with the passion to reduce incidence of cancer, for example, cervical cancer at early stage does not have any symptom until its late stage. For this reason, early detection saves life.

The inspiration to initiate a project that will provide awareness backed with FREE screening for women, arose from the number of people who are dying of Breast and Cervical Cancer in the villages and otherwise. The death rate is alarming! For instance, Nigeria has been rated the 1st nation and fifth in the world with highest cervical cancer deaths. It was reported that in Nigeria, 9,659 women are dying of cervical cancer every year (Cervical Cancer Free Coalition, Crisis Card May 2013). It is more painful because cervical cancer is a preventable cancer. 

Another inspiration sprouted from what I see on the television and on the streets. On our streets, we see women with badges begging for financial assistance, same is applicable to the televisions. Most of those women narrowly survive, because, most times these cancers are already at a devastating stage. Hence, I realized that if women are Breast and Cervical aware, the incidence of the cancer will reduce and also if they get FREE Screening, death rate will also reduce dramatically because early detection saves life. That’s how I initiated Project PINK. Instantly, I contacted friends in my university, other corps members and AIESEC, an international student-run organization was also very instrumental to me; I am passionate that if Nigerian  women can get free breast exam and free cervical cancer screening, the incidence and death rate will reduce to a very bare minimum.

Cancer is a disease caused by the uncontrollable growth of cells (building block) of any organ. Essentially, cervical cancer is simply the cancer of the neck of the womb. The cancer that affects the lower portion of the uterus. Project PINK is more passionate to create awareness on cervical cancer because January is cervical health month. My team and I were on over four radio stations creating awareness, educating women on the need of early detection and the benefit of screening. We want every man and woman to be breast and cervical cancer aware, because if cancer affects a woman the man and the family will also psychologically affected. It is worthy to note that the virus known as Human Papilloma Virus (HPV), which cause an estimated 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts that is in men. Simply put, HPV types 6 and 11 are known as the low risk types and they cause genital warts in men; while HPV types 16 and 18 are high risk types that causes cervical cancer. Also, HPV is passed from one person to another during sex.
However, there are other risk factors, women who have many sexual partners or men who have had many other partners have a greater risk. Early exposure to sex can also make a woman to be of greater risk, this is a rationale for us as Nigerians to discourage early marriage.
 Smoking, HIV and long term use of oral contraceptives are other risk factors.

I must reaffirm that Health is everyone’s business, whether you are a male or female; whether doctor or an electrical engineer. The key to health is knowledge. I am a graduate of Psychology/Sociology & Anthropology, University of Nigeria Nsukka, where I was lucky to graduate as the Best Graduating Student in the department of Psychology. I also have a diploma in Social Work, graduated with distinction from the same institution. You must not be a medical doctor to help in health issues or even champion a cause to the reduction of cancer incidence in Nigeria. What is needed is passion and right information from the right people. For instance, psychotherapy/counseling is inevitable before screening and after screening. If we are not careful we can deny women sleep for months when proper psychological dose is not given pre-screening and post-screening. So, am in the right stance. However, I have Doctors on the Project Pink Team.

Same is applicable to whether male or female, anyone can help the other. What affects a woman heath-wise can affect the man psychologically. However, we are concerned about breast and cervical cancer for now because of the high death rate compared to other cancers like prostrate and otherwise.
However, with my behavioural science background, merged with my other team members we have a formidable force. For instance, Corps Member Rukayya Nasir, a medical doctor deals with all the medical and screening issues; Iheanyi Onwubiko a graduate of Engineering deals with all the programme issues; Joseph C. Osuigwe a graduate of Mathematics is an amazing thinker, he deals with planning; Oluwabunmi Adejuwon Ruth a graduate of Nursing Science always on point with issues of medical examination; Ayangade O. Oluwaseun, a strategist and problem solver studied Sociology & Anthropology; Adiamo Moshope a political science graduate deals with communication, and Jim Franklyn, philosopher deals with media.  
It’s a team work and we are so passionate about helping people to help themselves. It is not an entirely woman or doctors affair. It is everyone’s cause. Corps Members against cancer working with several volunteers.

On September 28, 2013, we organized the first Project PINK: Breast & Cervical Cancer Awareness & FREE Screening at the Public Health Centre, Kabusa, Abuja. we partnered with Medicaid Radi-Diagnostics, Beauty Galaxy Ltd, Nativity Roma Cancer Support Centre and other organization to trained 165 rural women on Breast Self-Examination for them to teach other women, awareness were also created on breast and cervical cancer signs, symptoms, risk factors, pathophysiology, diagnosis, prevention, screening, management, change in Lifestyle,  and Dance Sports. 105 women got free breast examination, from which 19 women have symptoms that could lead to cancer.
On October 4, 2013, I also organized another Project PINK: Breast & Cervical Cancer Awareness for corps member with Edith Cruz from Mexico and Harrison Uzodimma, AIESEC Enugu. Over 100 corps members benefitted from that awareness.
In December, 2013, Project PINK helped a women who needed single mastectomy to raise fund for her surgery. I was able to help the woman to raise part of the money she needed for the surgery. Today, she is alive.

On January 24, 2014, Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Abuja; from 10am -5pm, my team and I organized an impactful Project PINK which was said to be the biggest health programme organized by a corps member; Project PINK were on Wazobia FM, Brekete Family-Love FM, Nigeria Info FM, Cool FM and on NTA AM Express.

Over 300 women and over 50 men were at the programme.
Project PINK 2014 featured FREE Cervical Cancer (that is, visual inspection with acetic acid-VIA) to all women, FREE Breast examination, presentations on Cervical Cancer by Ms. Claire Anyanwu, a Nurse from Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN), presentations on Breast Cancer by Dr. David from Medicaid Radiology, free breast self-examination guide, free stickers and otherwise. It also featured the grand commissioning of Project PINK in commemoration of the World Cervical Health Month 2014 with all special dignitaries like the Representative of NYSC FCT Coordinator; Mrs Akoma, Zonal Inspector AMAC; Mrs. Stella Owan, NYSC-MDGS CDS group schedule officer, Hon. Dr. Mrs Grace Adogo, Coordinator, Society Against Prostitution & Child Labour in Nigeria(SAP-CLN), Victor Emeka Edeh, President MGDs Corps Member and others  signing their signatures on the Project PINK banner to show their support to the end of cancer in Nigeria.

The programme was well-organized as the screening were carried out by professionals, Mrs. Ronke Atamewalen and  Dr. Kingsley Odogwu led the Marie Stopes Nigeria team to give free breast & cervical cancer screening; while Dr. Ijeoma Ozuruigbo, led the Health Improvement on Cancer Initiatives (HICI) team to also give free cervical cancer screening and Dr. David Uzochukwu, Abubakar Magaji and Adela Philo led the Medicaid Radio-Diagnostics team to provide free breast exam. While over 7 volunteer psychologists, nurses, medical doctors and corps members were on ground for pre-screening counseling and post-screening counseling.
A total of 231 women got free breast examination, while 36 women who had symptoms that could lead to cancer or needed additional tests were referred for ultrasound and mammogram; while 172 women got free cervical cancer screening and 15 women were positive (that is, they were found with precancerous lesions that are abnormal), the women were referred for free treatment powered by the Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN). This programme was covered by NTA International, NTA News 24, NTA Channel 5, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), TVC and other media houses.

Essentially, I employed the need-strategy because it was so difficult to get individuals, companies or organizations to help us financially in dealing with logistics, planning and otherwise. What I did was to go to companies like Beauty Galaxy Limited, Kemistry, Spark Studios, Indomie, Bon Bread, Reeganz Bakery, 7-UP, Drumstix, Abeysteph Global Link, Toast Magazine and they actually supported Project PINK with they produce. It’s a simple approach, just give us what you have (produce), it is what we want to make our event a success.

No! It is not possible, we have gone too far. We are currently working on other projects. More FREE Screenings, a documentary on Breast & Cervical Cancer, many more.

Cancer is an expensive disease, it is too expensive to get cancer care and support. Diagnosis is expensive, treatment is also expensive and care and otherwise. Its more painful because we don’t have sufficient institutional capacity like other Western countries. For example, breast cancer cases is higher in some Western countries, compared to some sub-Saharan African countries; whereas cancer death is higher in some sub-Saharan Africa than it is in some Western countries. It’s pathetic. This is because we have access to less medical care, equipment, and other capacity for cancer care and control. Hence, we want more women to get screening, because early detection saves life.
For Cancer Champions: Cancer may have stripped you down to near zero. Just know that nothing has really changed in you; you are still the same person you were before. The most important factor is hope and faith of survival. I want to also encourage everyone woman to go for screening, as early detection saves life.

I really think this is a great Initiative enlightening Nigerians on "these" Killers for more info on how to contact project pink please  kindly see details below..

Contact &Inquiries:

Runcie C.W. Chidebe
Project Initiator, Project PINK: Breast & Cervical Cancer Awareness & FREE Screening.
Email :

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