NOA, Foundation to partner toward sensitising youths to check breast, cervical cancer

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By Fortune Abang
Abuja, Oct. 27, 2020 The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and OCI Foundation International, a Non-Governmental Organisation, on Tuesday agreed to partner toward sensitising young people to avoid breast and cervical cancer.

The partnership is geared toward positioning the youth at the forefront of moves to prevent the spread of the disease.

OCI Foundation International is an Australia-Nigeria based organisation that seeks to promote awareness on proper ways to avoid breast and cervical cancer via ArOY Health Campaign in schools.

The Director-General of NOA, Mr Garba Abari, announced the collaboration at the roundtable between the agency and the foundation to promote the maiden “Arm Our Youths (ArOY)’’ campaign initiative in Abuja.

Abari, represented by Mrs Ruth Ogun, Director, Public Enlightenment and Mass Mobilisation Department of NOA, commended ArOY as a health initiative that could encourage people to imbibe cancer preventive lifestyle.

According to him, sensitisation to cancer-related cases will enable young people to embrace positive decisions that can affect them positively.

Abari said, “We all need to pull resources together intellectually, capacity wise and financially, to ensure that ordinary Nigerians benefit from cancer awareness.

“We are glad to meet you and we want to say that this partnership is possible; NOA is structured in ways you have the headquarters here and state offices across the 36 states and FCT.

“We work through the state structure, to the local government structure, which is where the grassroots people are and NOA has the strength of speaking all Nigerian languages.

“Those who are employed from the state and local governments are employed from their locality, so you do not find a Hausa man in Anambra or Igbo man in the north, but in the environments they are known.

“It is not difficult for us to engage people there, we work through all sectors in the community, technically the agency is well structured with skilled staff, who are trained to engage in any activity.”

He further stressed the need for capacity building of staff to boost effective communication during awareness campaigns in rural communities.

Earlier, Prof. Chris Ifediora, President of OCI Foundation International, said that the partnership had become important to enable young people to prevent breast and cervical cancer at early stages of their life.

Ifediora, represented by Mr Abdullahi Aliyu, Liaison Officer of OCI Foundation International, decried COVID-19 pandemic saying it had delayed plans to carry out an awareness campaign against cancer spread.

He described cancer as a deadly disease that could infect many people in rural areas, especially those who could neither read nor write.

According to him, we had to take precaution to abide by the COVID-19 protocols because those that have underlying illness can develop complications.

“The foundation is flexible and it provides serenity to ensure people do not get anxious about the outcome of cancer tests.

“This is where the cancer testing app is relevant, because it directs people to doctors available at that time.

“Partnership between the foundation and the agency is therefore imperative, because the mandate of NOA is to communicate the Federal Government’s policies and programmes to Nigerians

“It will also ensure effective sensitisation to breast and cervical cancer at the various state levels and during roll-out of state-to-state campaign we will need NOA there.

“The challenge we are faced with right now is how to synchronise awareness creation about breast and cervical cancer under COVID-19 pandemic,” Ifediora said.

He underscored the need to include cancer awareness as subject in the senior secondary school curriculum and syllabus to encourage people to imbibe self-awareness and the effective teaching and learning about cancer.

Meanwhile, Ifeanyi Anueyiagu, of the OCI Foundation International, said that the health campaign was a novel initiative that is Harvard-based and supported by the World Health Organisation.

According to him, the health campaign initiative is evidence-based health promotion through the use of OCI CerviBreast App which can be downloaded online.

“The ArOY campaign aims at integrating anti-breast and anti-cervical cancer teachings into the curriculum of all senior secondary schools in Nigeria as a way of tackling the two cancers.

“The NYSC adopted this campaign, as part of its orientation programme for all corps members nationwide.

“It was to be inaugurated in May 2020, but for COVID-19 it was postponed; the campaign is wide reaching, sustainable and culturally acceptable in a modest way that is accepted by everyone.

“It is cost effective; as of September 2019, the initiative was rolled-out across 261 senior secondary schools in Anambra and the evaluation research for Anambra is being concluded now,” Anueyiagu said.

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