Nigeria: PPB to launch psychological support center for cancer patients


As part of Project PINK BLUE (PPB), a Psychological Support Centre (PSC) is being established for cancer patients in Nigeria. Runcie C.W Chidebe, the Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE, stated in a press release that was issued in Abuja, that the project is being funded by the Advanced Breast Cancer Global Alliance which is a global alliance that is focused on improving and extending the lives of women and men living with advanced breast cancer. According to him, over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed with cancer every year and less than 2% of these patients actually receive any form of professional psychological support after a cancer diagnosis and during treatment.

In his words, “a cancer diagnosis and its treatment has a physical impact on the patient. It usually leads to a loss of body parts, such as the breast(s), limb, and other physical challenges which could negatively affect the mental wellbeing of cancer patients.”

“In Nigeria, most cancer patients receive the ‘bad’ news of “you have cancer” from their doctors, surgeon or from the diagnostic centres without the presence of any psychological counsellor. It is estimated that over 20,000 cancer patients are at risk of severe mental health disorders because of a cancer diagnosis in Nigeria. These mental health disorders may affect cancer treatment, as well as the quality of life. Unfortunately, the mental health needs of people impacted by cancer in Nigeria are often given little attention during and after cancer treatment. The PSC will provide a weekly psychotherapeutic clinic led by clinical psychologists for cancer patients at the centre. We will provide death & grief programme, art therapy, psychological assessment, personal & group therapy, family & caregivers support, doctor-patient support, wellness & resilience programme, psychological training for healthcare workers, psychological awareness and creation of a virtual psychological support system for patients who live outside Abuja,” he said.

Dr. Fatima Cardoso, the President of ABC Global Alliance and Director Breast Unit, Champalimaud Clinical Center, Portugal, said that the ABC Global Alliance is proud to support the creation of the 1st Psychological Support Centre in Abuja. She said that Cancer patients needed to have both physical and psychological support in order to overcome this disease. She said the Psychological Support Centre (PSC) is expected to start accepting cancer patients from the 1st of May, 2022.

The first Lady of Kebbi state, Dr. Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu and Chioma Asuzu, a Professor of Clinical Psychology, will be the co-chairs for the centre’s steering committee.

Members of the steering committee are Ayisha Osori, the author of Love Does Not Win Elections; Dr Alejandra Platas from ABC Global Alliance, Dr. Charles T. Orjiakor, Dr. Nneoma Onyebire, Rev. Sr. Dr. C. Onyedibe all from University of Nigeria Nsukka; Alison Simon from Birmingham City University; and Dr. Nneka Shagaya.

Others are Onyeso Amaka Juliet from National Hospital Abuja; Dr. Tania Estape from Psicooncologia Fundacion FEFOC, Spain; Dr. Jenee Walker from West Virginia University, USA; Zion Ameh from Mandate Health Empowerment Initiative Abuja and Khadijat Banwo-Fatai, Gloria C. Okwu, and Sunshine K. Chidebe from Project PINK BLUE.