First Psychological Support Centre in Abuja: This NGO does more than just concern
PROJECT PINK BLUE (PPB) is a cancer organization involved in raising awareness about cancer, free of cost or cost-effective screenings for cancer, support for cancer patients, patient navigation, patient health and wellness advocacy, fundraising to support people battling with cancer, research on detection, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of cancer, and oncology training. As a next step in helping cancer patients, the first psychological support centre (PSC) is going to be launched by the cancer-fighting NGO in Abuja, Nigeria, West Africa. The centre will offer clinical psychologists driven weekly psychotherapeutic clinic for cancer patients with its primary focus on severe mental health disorders. It is funded by the Advanced Breast Cancer Global Alliance, a global coalition supporting the lives of individuals living with advanced breast cancer. This was the extensive results concluded from the Cancer survivors’ conference 2021 held in Abuja, as stated by Gloria C. Okwu, the program co-ordinator, and also a cancer survivor, who initially highlighted the biggest challenges cancer patients go through is the co-morbid mental implications such as panic attacks, depression among others. It can be noted that, in partnership with the German Breast Cancer Association, ABC Global Alliance, Portugal, and Project Pink Blue (PPB), were donated over 100 wigs, compression sleeves, caps, and other items to cancer patients during the conference.
Psychological assessment, recreational therapies such as art therapy, personal and group therapy, a death and grief programme, support from family and caregivers, and therapist-patient support would be provided in the centre as stated by PPB’s Executive Director Runcie Chidebe and mailed to The International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR). Scheduled to be open to patients from May 1, the centre also intends to offer a wellness and resilience programme, psychological training for healthcare personnel, as well as provide psychological awareness and for patients based out of Abuja, create a virtual psychological support system for patients. Due to a lack of dedicated, professional, psychological care or mental health support for patients and their caregivers in many cancer hospitals, only about 2% of 100,000 people diagnosed with cancer in Nigeria each year received any professional psychological support after diagnosis and treatment, according to the PPB investigators. The physical impact caused by the incidence, diagnosis and treatment of cancer also affects the mental well-being of cancer patients, and most of the patients are not offered any psychological counselling. According to PPB, the risk of severe mental health disorders due to cancer diagnosis affecting cancer treatment and quality of life is incident upon about 20,000 patients in Nigeria. Dr. Fatima Cardoso, founder and President of ABC Global Alliance, and Director of Breast Unit, Champalimaud Clinical Center, Portugal advocates the idea of psychological well being along with physically helping the cancer patients and supports the establishment.
It can be noted that, Dr. Cordoso pointed out that screening and early diagnosis increases the chances of curability as some cancers are curable if detected early. Earlier, when set to establish psychological centre for cancer patients in July 2021, every year, 124,000 people in Nigeria are estimated to die from cancer, the majority of which are pastorate and breast cancer. She also insisted the Federal Government to provide the necessary infrastructures and resources to aid cancer patients. PSC consists of members from different parts of the country with Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, First Lady of Kebbi state and Chioma Asuzu, Professor of Clinical Psychology as co-chairs of the centre’s Steering Committee. Some of the other members of the steering committee include the author of Love Does Not Win Elections-Ayisha Osori, , Dr Alejandra Platas from ABC Global Alliance, from the University of Nigeria Nsukka-Dr Charles Orjiakor, Dr Nneoma Onyebire, and Rev. C. Onyedibe, Alison Simon from Birmingham City University and from the National Hospital, Abuja-Dr Nneka Shagaya and Onyes-Amaka Juliet.