The First Lady of Ondo State and Founder of Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria, BRECAN, Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, has spread the tentacle of the association to the South-South Nigeria, by inaugurating the Bayelsa state chapter on Saturday, 23th October, 2021.
This makes the seventh chapter of BRECAN in Nigeria.
At the inauguration ceremony held at the Bayelsa state banquet hall in Yenagoa, the BRECAN Founder, noted that after her encounter with breast cancer over 24years ago, she envisaged an organisation that will champion the campaign for breast health awareness and galvanise action against breast cancer in Nigeria.
“BRECAN set out with the mission to eliminate breast cancer as a life-threatening disease in Nigeria towards attaining a healthier society. The vision was to ensure that no woman dies needlessly from breast cancer. The four pillars of BRECAN; awarenesses creation, Patients’ support, Advocacy and Research have been pivotal to achieving these lofty goals”, says the Ondo First Lady.
She appreciated the Bayelsa First Lady for embracing BRECAN through Gloria Diri Foundation, noting that their collaboration to fight a common cause for women is a signal that they’re sisters beyond political party affiliation.
She said: “The birth of BRECAN, Bayelsa chapter is special in many ways, it is the first chapter in any state in South-South Nigeria. Even before today’s inauguration, the chapter has embarked on several impressive awareness outreaches. This is quite assuring as it gives credence to the fact that the founding members of this chapter are indeed passionate about the vision and mission of BRECAN which is captured in our slogan; Giving Hope, Saving Lives”.
She, therefore, re-emphasised the importance of correcting misconceptions about the disease, and the need to raise the tempo of creating awareness by engaging government and stakeholders to make legislations and policies that would help in the fight against cancer.
In her goodwill message, the First Lady of Bayelsa State, Dr.(Mrs) Gloria Douye Diri, who was earlier in the day the lead Jogger of the BRECAN’S JOG4LIFE, said giving back to the society is the whole essence of human existence, and lauded the Ondo First Lady for her determination to impact and touch lives through BRECAN.
According to her, Mrs Akeredolu is a shining example worthy of emulation, and expressed her readiness to provide the necessary support for BRECAN to kick breast cancer out of Bayelsa, through Gloria Diri Foundation.
The national President of BRECAN, Mrs. Tolu Taiwo, coordinated the inauguration of the new executives. They are Mrs. Zipuamere Felicia Afenfia (Chairperson), Mrs. Powei Masa (Vice-Chairperson), Dr. Abisoye Oyeyemi (Secretary), Mrs. Esther Oluremi Ariyo (Treasurer), Mr. Arobo Ebe-Opuene (Assistant Secretary), Mrs. Patricia Obirieze (Financial Secretary), Revd Tonye Ayamah (Public Relations Officer), and Mrs. Destiny Oyindoubra (Welfare Officer).
Earlier in her welcome address, the newly inaugurated Chairperson of BRECAN in Bayelsa state, Mrs. Zipuamere Felicia Afenfia, had highlighted some of the achievements of BRECAN within the shortest period of its existence in Bayelsa in May 15th 2021, which include advocacy visit to the Ministries of Health, Children Affairs, Schools, Churches and patient support strategy by securing partnership with a radio diagnostic centre (Silhouette Radio) which has given the association 50% discount on mammography and breast scan.
“Among other things, we intend to work with the Ministry of education to include cancer education in the school curriculum, to advocate for inclusion of cancer care in Bayelsa Health insurance scheme, and support the government to establish a cancer control programme for the state”. She said.
Mrs Afenfia, therefore, solicited the support of well-meaning individuals and organisations in Bayelsa state to partner BRECAN and donate in support of the project.
The Chairman of the occasion and Chief Jugde of Bayelsa State, Hon. Justice Kabi Abiri (CON), announced her readiness to partner BRECAN in creating awareness in the Judicial sector, while commending the Founder of BRECAN for planting the seed in Bayelsa.
She encouraged Bayelsa women to patronise medical experts whenever they notice unusual changes in their breast, rather than engaging in self-medication or visiting prayer mountains.
Giving a health talk on “Controlling Breast Cancer in Bayelsa state”, the Consultant General Surgeon, Niger Delta University Teaching hospital Okolobiri, Bayelsa, Dr. Oyintonbra Koroye, advocated early screening in Africa due to the age group of affected patients compared to the western countries who experience it at late stage in life.
He attributed the high rate of breast cancer mortality to include late presentation, as 77% patients present at stages 3-4; others are lack of manpower and dedicated oncology unit, paucity of radiotherapy centers, among others.
To achieve remarkable reduction of cancer death rate in Nigeria, Dr. Koroye called for public enlightenment, health education, breast screening and self-examination; putting in place modalities for screening at an earlier age, human capacity building, educating a girl child and breast cancer survivor groups.
The event also featured a drama titled ” Early detection and prompt/appropriate treatment save lives”, a BRECAN’s fun way of demonstrating Breast Self Examination which is popularly called SEKEM dance, and fundraising for the new chapter.
In attendance were representatives of partners of the Bayelsa state BRECAN’s chapter, which include Sterling bank, World Health Organisation, Gloria Diri Foundation, Standup for Women Society, Nigeria Medical Association, Nursing in Nigeria; Sunky supermarket, among others.
By Mary Agidi
Special Assistant to the Governor on Media
(Office of the First Lady)
Oct. 23rd, 2021