In its bid to raise awareness about cancer and to also assist persons diagnosed with the disease, The BRICON Foundation has partnered Macmillan Support UK to organise a two-day workshop for nurses and doctors, with a view to equip them to deal with end-of-life care and palliation.
The workshop, sponsored by the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, TOTAL Exploration & Production Nigeria Limited and partners, would train 100 nurses and doctors in Lagos State.
Speaking at a press briefing preceding the event on Monday, November, 03, founder of The BRICON Foundation, Abigail Simon-Hart, noted: “Nigeria has the worst cancer death rate in Africa at a shocking 80 per cent of persons diagnosed, according to the World Health Organisation.
“The majority of deaths are due to late presentation and/or inaccessibility to medical care.
“At BRICON Foundation, we believe that through awareness, early detection and provision of appropriate and timely support to cancer patients and their families, we can bring that figure down and make a difference in millions of lives.”
The BRICON Foundation is a Nigeria-based non-profit organisation that helps to raise awareness about cancer, while it also assists cancer patients and their families.
Simon-Hart, a cancer survivor herself, said the Foundation was established to provide practical support to cancer patients and their families.
This include funding for treatment, diagnostic tests and medication, subsidising or providing free mastectomy products, and providing training to local nurses and doctors, with support from international partners.
The WHO statistics state that every year, more than 80,000 Nigerians lose their battle with cancer, while more than 100,000 new cases are recorded annually.
“For many of the two million Nigerians living with the disease, life-saving medical treatment is not an option, either because of the high cost or because there are not enough support centres equipped to handle the disease,” Simon-Hart lamented.
She noted that when detected early, cancer is treatable, adding that it’s not right that millions of people are affected because they cannot afford medical care.
Noting that this is the first time that Macmillan Cancer Support UK would be working with a charity outside the United Kingdom, Simon-Hart disclosed that two other members of The BRICON Foundation trustees had been diagnosed, treated and survived cancers at some points in their lives.
“All three of our trustees have been touched by cancer directly. Mrs. Sonja Ally was diagnosed in 1981 with breast cancer, but she has lived cancer-free for 36 years following treatment.
“Another trustee, Dr. Niyi Adekeye, lost his dad to prostate cancer in 1998, while I lost my mum to leukemia in 2013.
“I was also diagnosed with breast cancer six months after my mum died, but due to early diagnosis and immediate treatment, I am now cancer-free,” Simon-Hart said.
She lamented that cancer rate has continued to rise in Africa due to many reasons, with the most worrying of reasons being the lack of trained personnel, dearth of well-equipped medical infrastructure and prohibitive cost of cancer treatment.
“Surviving cancer diagnosis is therefore dependent on the patient’s mental strength to fight the disease, education and quick action,” Simon-Hart noted.
In his speech, Executive General Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility, TOTAL Explorations and Production, Mr. Vincent Nnadi, said NNPC, TOTAL and partners have been engaged in health awareness screening campaigns to prevent cancer and other diseases; and that the partners were in the final stage of donating mammography systems to Lagos and Zamfara states to promote early breast cancer diagnosis.
Nnadi also disclosed that TOTAL and partners were partnering the Federal Government to develop fully equipped, one-stop oncology centre of excellence in the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital in Rivers State, which would grant access to cancer patients in the South-South to receive comprehensive care.
Noting that the scheduled training was aimed at equipping nurses and doctors in both private and public healthcare in Nigeria to correctly diagnose and treat cancer, Nnadi said NNPC, TOTAL and partners were fully funding the workshop, which would train 100 nurses and doctors from over 20 healthcare facilities in the country.
“NNPC, TOTAL and partners have identified with the need for improved survival of cancer patients through access to appropriately equipped healthcare facilities and well-trained personnel, the overall aim of which is to change for good the status of Nigeria as a country with the worst death rate from cancer in the whole of Africa,” Nnadi said.
Simon-Hart therefore expressed the gratitude of The BRICON Foundation to the NNPC, TOTAL and partners, saying it was through their “kind support” that the Foundation had been able to offer the training completely free of charge to beneficiaries.