The Arm Our Youths Campaign

The Arm Our Youths (ArOY) Campaign

The Arm Our Youths Campaign, otherwise known as the “ArOY Campaign”, is a health promotion initiative of the OCI Foundation. It started 2019, following the Foundation’s two years of annual heath symposium on breast and cervical cancer preventive techniques.

 

At the OCI Foundation, we believe that, for breast and cervical cancer awareness campaigns in Nigeria and other low to lower-middle income countries to be sustainable, affordable and all-encompassing, they need to target young, mostly-teenage adults in high schools. Inclusion into the regular academic curriculum of the schools, along with repeated teachings and in-built assessment systems across each of the final three years of Nigerian high schools, are the cornerstones of the ArOY campaign.
The idea, plans and approaches of this campaign are primarily the brain-child of the OCI Foundation, and have been developed through some input from the Harvard Medical School, Boston, the United States of America.
Components of the Campaign:

 

The need for the ArOY campaign is urgent, and needs to reach a lot of women as soon as possible. As such, the program is premised on a slogan that reflects all these.  We therefore aim to Arm Our Youths by . . .
. . . Arming them Young, . . . Arming them Now, and . . . Arming them All.

 

 

Specific Aims

 

We aim to introduce breast and cervical cancerpreventive campaigns into the academic curricula of all high schools across Nigeria. This will be in phases, with Anambra State, our primary locality, being the first state to benefit. Thereafter, the campaign will be extended to the rest of the schools in other Nigerian states and geopolitical zones.  The roll out will commence in 2019, and should hopefully be completeda cross the country by the Year 2025.

 

We intend to increase the proportion of all (male and female) senior secondary (high) school students with correct knowledge of the Early Symptoms, Risk Factors and Preventive Practices of the two cancers.

 

Thirdly, we aim to increase the proportion of female students that practice monthly breast self-examination (BSE). To this end, we will be introducing a mobile phone Application sometime in 2019 that will help stimulate compliance to this life-saving practice by sending monthly reminders.

Finally, we hope to ensure that the knowledge gained from our interventions are sustained, and we hope to achieve through this through sustained and prolonged engagement to the necessary teachings in the decades to come.

 

Background

Since 2017, the OCI Foundation has been at the vanguard of youth empowerment on preventive measures against breast and cervical cancers for female senior secondary school students in Otuocha Educational Zone of Anambra State, South-eastern Nigeria. This program has been a resounding success, with excellent feedbacks from guests and participants alike.

 

However, due to the limitations enforced by limited space and finances, we can only reach out to a a few hundreds of participants at any point in time. And we have no way of sustaining the lessons imparted on these participants one they graduate from high school.

 

The ArOY Campaign was developed from these experiences of the OCI Foundation, and is designed to have a permanent solution to them.

 

Campaign Rationale

 

Statistics linked to breast and cervical cancers highlight the burning platform they pose in Nigeria and other developing countries, as well as the urgent need for preventive actions. In 2012, for instance, these countries accounted for 445,000 (84%) of all cervical cancer occurrences, along with 270,000 (85%) of the resultant deaths.1 In Nigeria, about 50.3 million women aged 15 years or more are at risk of cervical cancer, and about 8,240 of the 14,089 that had the disease in 2017, died.2 Projections have it that, by the year 2025, cervical cancer deaths may rise by 63% among affected women aged “≤ 65”, and 50% for those “> 65” years.3
Breast cancer, on the other hand, was responsible for 571,000 global deaths in 2015,4 and its incidence has risen steadily from 1-in-20 women in 1960, to the current 1-in-8.5 Incidences in developing countries are historically lower than that seen in developed countries, but the gap is closing considerably. Unfortunately, outcomes from these developing countries remain poor, with five-year survival rates of about 10%, compared to 70% in developed countries.6

 

Poor knowledge of preventive strategies,6,7 along with the almost non-existent government-sponsored vaccination and screening programs in Nigeria and other developing countries,1 contribute to these poor statistics. Despite the apparent show of concern from the concerned governments, limitations in funds mean that this unfortunate trend will most likely continue. The implication, therefore, is that direct empowerment of women, through health campaigns, present the most realistic and affordable intervention measures in these countries.

 

Such campaigns are known to improve knowledge, preventive practices, screening uptake, and the adoption of positive behaviours.8 Combined, these will ultimately reduce the cancers’ incidences.3  For the foreseeable future in Nigeria, these campaigns actually remain the only realistic options available to millions of women, and underlines the need to take seriously the innovative, high-impact, and low-cost approach proposed in this project.

 

The measures adopted in the ArOY Campaign were primarily by the observations of the OCI Foundation, through evaluations of her anti-cancer campaigns since 2017. Peer-reviewed articles, published by a team lead by the Foundation’s President in journals of international reputation, would reveal the basis for these programs. 9-12 Direct access to the concerned pubications can be found HEREHERE, and HERE.
PARTNERS AND COLLABORATORS

 

We are mindful of the fact that changes like those being proposed in the ArOY Campaign are not easy to push through. We anticipate that there may be difficulties to surmount, if we are to translate our dreams and vision, to effective realities.

 

As such, we have identified, and are hoping to collaborate with the following:

 

  1. The Anambra State Government: Led by the State Governor and the First Lady of the State, as well as the Commissioners for Health, Basic Education, Women Empowerment, Youths, and others, we hope to effectively introduce the ArOY within the state in 2019-2020;
  2. Program ChampionsWe have engaged seasoned technocrats and passionate personalities in Anambra State to be part of this program. So far, we have Lady Joy Ulasi, the immediate past Chairman of the PPSSC, Anambra State, as well as Dr Chioma Ezenyimulu, the current Executive Secretary, Anambra State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Awka, Nigeria.
  3. Program Sponsor: This sponsorship is non-financial, but exists to ensure co-operation from the highest level of governance. Prof Kate Omenugha, the current Commissioner for Basic Education in Anambra State, who is a university professor, is the ArOY Campaign Sposor. Her Ministry is responsible for sll the high schools in the State.
  4. The Harvard Medical SchoolThe project was reviewed by the tutors from this prestigious school, from which the OCI Foundation’s President underwent a Healthcare Leadership training. Their input and teachings were vital in making the program a complete, realistic and potentially implementable one, while significantly raising its chances of success.
  5. NGOs and Governmental InstitutionsWe will seek to partner with various Nigerian and overseas-based Non-governmental and governmental organizations, in our quest to spread the vital messages of the ArOY Campaign to all high schools in Nigeria. Support from all will be important for us to success, and can be in financial and non-financial terms. The anticipated costs will be huge, but this would not deter the OCI Foundation. The lives we seek to save, are much more valuable than the funds we seek to spend.
  6. Individuals: Ours is a Foundation that are willing to partner with individuals. You can partner with us by volunteering to work at our event, or by donating in cash or kind.
  7. Corporate organisations: Small and large scale organisations are also welcomed to partner with us. These partnerships can be in cash or kind, like printing services, phone appplication technological developments, event venues, media services, outfits, legal services, and so on.
  8. Plus lots more!!!

 

Over the next 12 months and in the years to come, the ArOY, we believe, will dominate discussions and policy meetings in the public and private engagements within and outside Nigeria. We are excited about this opportunity to save lives in ways that are not only sustainable and cost-eefective, but also wide-reaching and effective.

 

The excitement is growing, and a number of leading Nigerian news outlets have already reported this project. Any one with interesst can gain further insights by reading these reports from VANGUARDthe NATIONthe SUN, and NEWS on NAIJA NET, among many other blogs.

 

CALL FOR SUPPORT

 

The ArOY Campaign is an expensive campaign, aiming to reach millions on women over the next few years. The costs run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. Non-financial donations can be in the form of cars, office spaces, sponsorship for educational materials, and so on. Follow the link below to donate, or contact us to discuss sponsorships. No donation is small. Please remember that all donations to the OCI Foundation is tax deductible.

 

Donations through PayPal or Bank Cards can be made HERE.

. . . Join us, as we  ARM OUR YOUTHS!

 

. . . Join us, as we ARM THEM YOUNG!!

 

 . . . Join us, as we ARM THEM ALL!!!

 

 . . . Join us, as we ARM THEM NOW!!!!

 

Join us, as we rise, by lifting others!!!!!

References

  1. World Health Organization. Human papillomavirus (HPV) and cervical cancer. WHO 2016; https://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs380/en/. Accessed January 6th, 2018.
  2. World Health Organization/HPV Information Centre. Nigeria: Human Papillomavirus and Related Cancers, Fact Sheet 2017 2017; https://www.hpvcentre.net/statistics/reports/NGA_FS.pdf. Accessed January 7th, 2018.
  3. Ukpo TMO. Nigerian Women’s Knowledge and Awareness of Cervical Cancer. Walden University, Minneapolis, ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, Walden University, Minneapolis; 2013.
  4. World Health Organization. WHO | Cancer. WHO 2017; https://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs297/en/. Accessed November 20th, 2017.
  5. Omoyeni OM, Oluwafeyikemi PE, Irinoye OO, Adenike OO. Assessment of the Knowledge and Practice of Breast Self Examination among Female Cleaners in Obafemi Awolowo University Ile Ife, Nigeria. International Journal of Caring Sciences. 2014;7(1):239.
  6. Okobia MN, Bunker CH, Okonofua FE, Osime U. Knowledge, attitude and practice of Nigerian women towards breast cancer: A cross-sectional study. World Journal of Surgical Oncology. 2006;4(1):11.
  7. Ayinde O, Omigbodun A, Ilesanmi A. Awareness of cervical cancer, Papanicolaou’s smear and its utilisation among female undergraduates in Ibadan. African Journal of Reproductive Health. 2004:68-80.
  8. Chigbu CO, Onyebuchi AK, Onyeka TC, Odugu BU, Dim CC. The impact of community health educators on uptake of cervical and breast cancer prevention services in Nigeria. International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. 2017;137(3):319-324.
  9. Ifediora C, Azuike E. Knowledge and attitudes about cervical cancer and its prevention among female secondary school students in Nigeria. Tropical Medicine & International Health. 2018.
  10. Ifediora C, Azuike E. Tackling breast cancer in developing countries: insights from the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices on breast cancer and its prevention among Nigerian teenagers in secondary schools. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Hygiene. 2018;59(4):282.
  11. Ifediora C, Azuike E. Sustainable and cost-effective teenage breast awareness campaigns: insights from a Nigerian high school intervention study. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice (accepted). 2018.
  12. Ifediora CO, Azuike EC. Targeting cervical cancer campaigns on teenage high schoolers in resource-limited economies: lessons from an intervention study of Nigerian senior secondary school girls. Family Practice. 2018
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