28 Oct 2018 Video: Speech by the President of the OCI Foundation at the 2018 Health Symposium
[All Protocol observed]
Distinguished guests, ladies, and gentlemen, we say “Welcome”!
Just over 12 months ago, we held the very first edition of this event, on this very ground, and some of you here today, were also present at that very event. At the time, we promised to make it an annual program, in the hope that, with the Foundation’s other health and educational programmes, we can continue to create a society where everyone feels empowered, to take control of his or her own wellbeing, irrespective of his or her financial, social, cultural, religious, and educational dispositions.
. . . it is a big deal, ladies and gentlemen, because if potentially allows us to extend our reaches from the thousands that currently benefit from our activities, to the potential millions of men and women who need them, not just within the confines of Anambra State, but across the length and breadth of the Nigerian nation.
Interestingly, ladies and gentlemen, with our symposium of last year, came a research into how we can make things better, more efficient, more sustainable, and wider-reaching to our women, not just in Anambra State, but to the rest of Nigeria. Some papers from that research have either been published, or are currently being reviewed by journals of international repute.
So what are our options? Ignorance, we know, does not minimize the risks faced by our women. According to the WHO, of the roughly 14,000 Nigerian women diagnosed with cervical cancer every year, just over 8,000, will die. This leaves families, husbands, children, and a whole lot of others, devastated.
We can either continue to accept this unfortunate trend, or perhaps, just pray over it, or worse still, ignore it, and hope that it goes away. Alternatively, we can stand, and fight. Well, at the OCI Foundation we have chosen to do just that, by arming our women appropriately.
Unfortunately, health promotion campaigns, such as we are having today, can only reach a few hundred at a time, or at most, thousands, and comes at huge financial costs. And our research, among other bodies of evidence, show us that acquired knowledge diminishes with time, and, without a way to repeat them and ensure knowledge-retention, most participants lose the much they learnt.
So, the OCI Foundation have decided to champion ways that will ensure that our health promotion activities are not only sustainable, but will also reach all those who need them, wherever they may be.
With the support of the Harvard Medical School, Boston, the U.S.A., (where Dr. Chris Ifediora, the Foundation’s President, currently studies), as well as support from other international bodies in Australia, and possibly, Nigeria, the OCI Foundation has plans to introduce breast and cervical cancer awareness campaigns, into the academic curricula of senior secondary schools across Nigeria.
Ladies and gentlemen, given the foregoing, we enjoin everyone here and beyond to team up with the OCI Foundation. Together, we can do this. As a matter of fact, all four ministries of the Anambra State Government invited to this event today, can help us achieve this purpose, at the state level at least.
The NGOs and other bodies here today, as well as those we are yet to reach out to, also have roles to play. The press and media organizations, school teachers, politicians, parents, traditional rulers, and all other stakeholders, are also welcomed to join this movement, which will be executed under the slogan: the “Arm Our Girls Campaign” of the OCI Foundation.
This project will be launched in Nigeria and Australia over the next one to two years, and we intend to drum up international support and collaborations, that will ensure its success. I am sure that most of us here will be attending these launchings in due time.
The approach to be adopted by the “Arm Our Girls” Campaign is backed by facts from empirical research. It will be an affordable, sustainable, and culturally acceptable approach, that will reach out to everyone, not just our females, but also our males, who will need to be educated so that they can assist their wives, their sisters, their daughters, their girlfriends, and their professional colleagues.
In rounding up this speech, ladies and gentlemen, may I remind our guests that the OCI Foundation was established in 2016, with the primary aim of bridging the health and educational divides between the rich and the poor in our communities. Through scholarships, our educational activities have benefitted dozens of brilliant but less privileged students and pupils, across junior secondary, senior secondary, and tertiary institutions.
Thank you everyone once again for attending this event. We will be reaching out to you all soon, for the “Arm Our Girls” Campaign. Kindly note that we will at the same time be reaching out to others across the country, and internationally as well, but we hope to make Anambra the first State where this will be rolled out. As such, we implore you all to open your doors when we knock, and to pick our calls, when we call.
Finally, I urge us all to relax, pay as much attention as we can, and take in as much lessons as possible from the activities we have lined up today. These lessons will last us all a lifetime, and can save, not just our lives, but those of our families, our friends, and our colleagues.