..journey has been boisterous, attracted National, International acclaim, Founder says
The Breast Cancer Association of Nigeria (BRECAN) has emerged as the Best Cancer NGO in Nigeria for the year 2021.
The association, Tuesday, was singled out for the prestigious award given by the Federal Ministry of Health in recognition of its strides in the fight against the scourge of breast cancer in Nigeria, being part of the activities at the ongoing 2021 Cancer International Week in Nigeria, holding at NAF Conference Centre & Suites, Ahmadu Bello Way, FCT, Abuja.
Founded in 1997, BRECAN set out with the mission to eliminate breast cancer as a life threatening disease in Nigeria, while standing on the four pillars of awareness creation, patient support, advocacy and research.
Its founder and wife of the Governor of Ondo State, Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, who received the award on behalf of the association was also given an Award of Excellence in recognition of her contributions to cancer prevention and control in Nigeria.
While giving her remarks on the strides of BRECAN for the past twenty-four years, Mrs Akeredolu described the experience as boisterous, saying the association has attracted laudations from within and outside the country.
“Our efforts have cut the attention of individuals and institutions within and outside this country, among them was my heroine, Hillary Clinton that recognize our work in 2005. We are proud to also let you know that Harvard University has recognized the works of BRECAN in the fight against breast cancer in Nigeria.
“The University of Edinburgh in Germany has also recognised our efforts in the fight against breast cancer in Africa in 2019, and hear this one: Biden Cancer, in 2018, also recognised our collaboration with FOWOSO- a group of women that work with me. Indeed, this journey has been boisterous, every step of the way.”
Speaking on the efforts BRECAN has made in its mandate areas of awareness, advocacy, patient support and research, she noted, “Over the past 24 years, we have carried out numerous awareness campaigns, provided financial and psychological support to patients and survivors, embarked on several advocacy visits that have yielded and still yielding results. And, of course, we have supported and carried out researches.”
According to the First Lady, “Not only are we working with governments and institutions to raise awareness, the girl children in Ondo and Imo States are now taking the lead as breast cancer advocates.
“Nearly 2000 girls who have passed through Bemore, the yearly summer boot camp organised by the Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu Foundation (BAAF) where we train girls to have the capacities in ICT and Solar energy and other life-enhancing skills by letting them know that, as girls, these are diseases that may afflict them as they become women, and by so doing, at a very young age, they are already aware.” She said.
Mrs Akeredolu who acknowledged the support of her spouse and governor of Ondo State in the heights BRECAN has reached said the organisation continues to advocate for institutional and crowd funding to support cancer patients.
The First Lady who also presented a scholarly paper on ‘Internet Access and Breast Cancer Awareness among Akure Residents’, said “It is now statutory that, yearly, money will be voted to cancer control in the state. While we continue to advocate for institutional funding, BRECAN has embarked on crowd funding, raising money to support patients on state basis.”
“Aside awareness, advocacy for budget allocation and cancer control is equally essential. BRECAN has invested considerable efforts to make this happen. We have paid advocacy visit to Ondo State House of Assembly, and I am happy to tell you that they have approved the budget line for cancer control.”
In his keynote address, the governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, commended the efforts of the wives of governors in fighting breast cancer and nudged them to seek funding from global institutions that are sources of health finance, saying, “That is where we need the greatest help.”
The International Cancer Week tagged “Cancer Care for All: Through Strategic Advocacy and Investment” and holding from 26th- 29th October, 2021, at NAF Conference Centre & Suites, Ahmadu Bello Way, FCT, Abuja, featured the launching of National Policy books on Chemotherapy Safety and National Hospice and Palliative Care Policy.
The cancer week had commenced with a symposium organised by First Ladies Against Cancer (FLAC), titled ‘Experiences Sharing on Grassroot Engagement and Cancer Advocacy in Nigeria’, which attracted big wigs from within and outside Nigeria, including the First Ladies of Cross River State, Dr Linda Ayade, Kebbi State, Dr Zainab Shinkafi Bagudu, Niger State, Dr Amina Abubakar Bello, and Chief (Mrs) Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu of Ondo State.
Other dignitaries present were the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Adebinpe Adebiyi, the initiator and convener of Cancer week, Professor Linda Okoye, representatives of Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Erelu Bisi Fayemi, Mrs Florence Ajimobi, Mrs Funso Amosun,
Nigeria Cancer Society, NCS, World Health Organisation, WHO, National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS, Pharmaceutical
Society Of Nigeria, medical experts, academics, media, and several local and international partners.
By Debo Akinbami