Sahara Group Partners Dorcas Foundation

The Sahara Group and The Dorcas Cancer Foundation have joined forces to increase awareness of the cancer scourge in a bid to reinforce the role early detection plays in preventing avoidable morbidity and mortality from the disease which claimed the lives of 9.6 million people in 2018.

Statistics sourced from the World Cancer Day website indicates that at least a third of common cancers are preventable and up to 3.7 million lives could be saved each year through implementing appropriate strategies for prevention, early detection and treatment.

Tagged ‘How Pink Is Your Love’, the project will take advantage of the euphoria surrounding the 2019 Valentine’s Day celebration to shore up awareness and early detection campaigns through youth engagement talks in schools, health walks, media interactions and donations to select cancer based non-governmental organisations.

The campaign would be implemented across the energy conglomerate’s locations across Africa, Europe, Middle East and Asia.
Dr. Adedayo Joseph, Clinical Radiation Oncologist and Executive Director of Dorcas Cancer Foundation would provide lead technical support for the campaign through her organisation which is widely regarded for its leading role in stamping out cancer.

“Last year, Sahara Group added more fillip to the issue of climate change on Valentine’s Day. Our ‘Greenest Love of All’ campaign was well-received and generated remarkable awareness and commitment to galvanising action towards protecting our environment.

“This year, we are delighted to work with the reputable Dorcas Cancer Foundation to stem the tide of cancer, a deadly disease which can be tackled by awareness, early detection, accurate diagnosis, as well as prompt and proper treatment.” The Head of Corporate Communications at Sahara Group, Bethel Obioma explained.


Dorcas Cancer Foundation promote childhood cancer awareness, visit patients at LUTH

The Dorcas Cancer Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation is promoting cancer awareness and management for children and recently visited the Lagos University Teaching Hospital to mark the International Childhood Cancer Day (Feb. 15), with the support of Sahara Foundation.

According to the Foundations, the International Childhood Cancer Day is focused of creating awareness to stem the tide of cancer, a deadly disease which can be tackled by alertness, early detection, accurate diagnosis, as well as prompt and proper treatment.

“We are here at the paediatric Oncology ward to see the children with cancer, give psychological and financial support to their parents. We want to help more kids’ access treatment, childhood cancer has early chance of survival if it properly detected and treated” Korede Akindele, programme officer, Dorcas Cancer Foundation said. “We are calling for support from Nigerians because funding is still a major challenge.”

Akindele said the foundation has been able to help 30 children with cancer to access treatment, noting that about seven children awaits treatment but the foundations need support for these children to access care.

Childhood cancer is fast becoming an important paediatric problem in several parts of Africa, Nigeria inclusive as infectious and nutritional diseases decline. However, childhood cancers are affecting more children, and are increasingly becoming a major cause of childhood morbidity and mortality.

Oluseyi Ojurongbe, manager, Sahara Foundation said the organisation remains resolute in its commitment to partnering with various stakeholders to “take cancer down”. He said the total annual economic cost of cancer which is estimated at 1.16 trillion dollars makes it imperative for various stakeholders across the globe to support sustainable awareness and prevention projects.

“At Sahara, we have over the years supported several cancer programmes to raise awareness and reduce the stigma associated with the disease. The war to defeat cancer should be concerted, requiring the efforts of individuals, corporations and government.” Ojurongbe said.

Also speaking Oluwatomi Giwa, Creative Director, BRT TV, Value Media, said children have survived cancer in the past in other countries and Nigeria as the giant of Africa can also do the same if there are right funds allocated to these programmes

“I believe that we can raise awareness for private companies to invest their money as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility project for these cancer patients to access treatment,” he said.

Dorcas Foundation lifts children living with cancer

Two Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have called on the government to look into the plights of children living with cancer.

To mark the International Childhood Cancer Day (ICCD), the NGOs visited Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) at the weekend to give food items to the children.

Led by Dorcas Cancer Foundation in partnership with Sahara Foundation, the organization doled out food items, toys and wears to the children.

To celebrate the ICCD, the Programme Officer, Dorcas Cancer Foundation, Mr. Korede Akindele, said their gesture was to relieve parents of children living with cancer the truma, saying that they need to be supported.

“Today is the international world child cancer day, Dorcas foundation came to do something with the children. This is how we do it every year, we come to the ward to see the children and how we can support them and social support. The role of Dorcas foundation is just to support the parents, to keep them strong in the process and to also see how we can help them.” He said.

He said they were prevented from doing more for children living with cancer because of paucity of funds, calling on organizations and individuals to also come to the aid of the children.

“So far we have been able to help over 30 children and we still want to help more. Currently on our waiting list, we have over seven children that we have not been able to help and we want to help them. With the support of people, we will able to help them.” he said.

The Supply Chain Analyst, Sahara group Mr. Segun Ogunkua promised to assist the children financially, saying that the organization wants to help eradicate the stigma around cancer.

‘Getting right support vital in fight against childhood cancer’

The Manager, Sahara Foundation, Mr Oluseyi Ojurongbe, has said that children battling cancer can survive the disease if they get the right support.

Speaking during a visit to the Department of Paediatric Oncology at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, last Friday, Ojurongbe added that early detection of cancer could also help afflicted children to survive the disease.

“Raising awareness of the disease will help in removing the stigma around childhood cancer. Unfortunately, people in our society think cancer is contagious, but with support from people, those battling the disease can beat it.

“The first thing is to lift their spirit; if that is done, then they will realise their body can fight the disease,” he said.

Ojurongbe also said the total annual economic cost of treating cancer, which was estimated at $1.16trn, had made it imperative for stakeholders across the globe to support sustainable awareness and prevention projects in the fight against the disease.

The visit was organised by Dorcas Cancer Foundation in partnership with Sahara Foundation to mark the International Childhood Cancer Day.

The Programme Officer of Dorcas Cancer Foundation, Mr Korede Akindele, urged the Federal Government and private individuals to collaborate in the fight against childhood cancer by providing adequate funding.

“Our foundation has been able to help 30 children in their treatment and we still want to do more, but funding is a challenge. The government cannot do it alone,” Akindele said.

The Creative Director, BRT TV, Mr Oluwatomi Giwa, also spoke on the need for the government to increase health care funding, build the necessary infrastructure and to provide quality service to the people.

“There must be good infrastructure in the health sector. The Federal Government must fund research on cancer. There are several ways to help people with cancer. Children have survived cancer in other counties. I believe Nigeria can also do the same with the right funding allocated to these programmes,” he said.


TDCF harps on increased funding for childhood cancer treatment

Irked by the increased number of cases of childhood cancer in Nigeria, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF) has called for more funding to enable children with the disease access early treatment.
The foundation, which commemorated the International Childhood Cancer Day at the Pediatric Oncology ward of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), said the major challenge facing childhood cancer remains lack of funds to treat cases detected early, which could have been prevented.

The Founder of the foundation, Dr. Joseph Adedayo, who was represented by the Programme Officer, Korede Akindele, stressed that lack of financial support has contributed to the increased number of childhood cancer in the country, which most times leads to death of the children.He said the foundation, which is committed towards supporting the treatment and survival of children with cancer, have so far sponsored the treatment of 30 children, from testing to chemotherapy, while over seven other children are still on their waiting list for treatment, due to lack of funds.

“We are hoping for people to support us so that we can be able to achieve our goals of getting more children with cancer treated so as to save their lives,” he added.

Also, the Manager, Sahara Foundation, Oluseyi Ojurongbe stressed that the total annual economic cost of cancer, which is estimated at $1.16 trillion dollars makes it imperative for various stakeholders across the globe to support sustainable awareness and prevention projects.He said the organisation remains resolute in its commitment to partnering with various stakeholders to “take cancer down”.

Also lamenting on lack of financial support for the treatment of children living with cancer, the Creative Director, value Media, which is also a partner of TDCF, Oluwatomi Giwa, said: “Government needs to have funds allocated to healthcare in general, there has to be a good infrastructure for healthcare in Nigeria and then we can help people, begin to fund research for cancer, get more drugs that could help people in the country. There are medicines from different researches done abroad, people and children have survived cancer in the past in other countries and I believe that Nigeria can also do the same if there are right funds allocated.”


#Impact365: The Dorcas Cancer Foundation is fighting cancer one child at a time

Nothing kills a child’s dream like the daily burden of checking in and out of hospitals seeking cure for an ailment that they don’t deserve. Statistics show that 43 children are diagnosed with cancer on a daily basis and 12 percent of these children do not survive.

In these parts, cancer in children is mostly not speedily detected as parents are either given to self medication or prone to seek spiritual help when consistent health issues arise. When eventually detected, many parents are unable to afford dedicated medical services for these children.

In this interview with YNaija’s Impact365, we learn about The Dorcas Cancer Foundation, one of the very few NGOs dedicated towards raising awareness for child cancer in Nigeria.

Tell us more about The Dorcas Cancer Foundation

TDCF is a non-profit organisation that was set up in memory of Dorcas Adepitan (May 29th, 2003 – July 13th, 2015). Since we began, we have expended all our efforts on funding diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of children living with a cancer diagnosis in Nigeria.
We also engage in activities to raise awareness, such as our recent Instagram challenge called #SingSeptember where members of the public sing a nursery rhyme in support of child cancer and win some fantastic prizes.
In addition, just last weekend, we launched our Childhood Cancer Handbook Series, a series that was started to help spread awareness and answer the common questions that parents, family members and health professionals have about childhood cancer.

What inspired the decision to set up a NGO that tends to childhood cancer?

Dorcas was a little girl who lost her battle against Osteosarcoma, a bone cancer. During the course of the illness, I became close to her and her mother and found them both to be very loving, and strong.
What struck a chord was the fact that the parent had done the right thing; her daughter was ill and she took her to a doctor. However, despite being in the care of a qualified professional, the diagnosis was still missed for a long time.
In addition, children’s cancers have an excellent prognosis when diagnosed early, even better than adult cancers. Children are also very vulnerable. They are totally dependent on the decisions and finances of the family they find themselves in. A child that is ill, wants to get better, but cannot take himself to a doctor if the parents insist on a traditional healer, or even just wishful thinking.

How many Nigerian children are currently battling cancer? What are the statistics?

Those statistics are hard to come by. The few numbers that are available are mostly drawn from hospital-based data. Community data is as yet inadequate regarding childhood cancers in Nigeria.

Childhood cancer is curable if detected early enough, what are the signs parents need to look out for in their kids?

It is important to know that there are many different types of childhood cancer.
The first step is for parents to understand that a sick child should be seen by a certified healthcare provider – a medical doctor. Look for signs that the child is not improving with the treatment that has been provided, and demand a referral to a specialist i.e. a Pediatrician.
Some signs to look for are also weight loss, fevers that cannot be explained, a white discoloration of the pupil (dark part) of the eye, any lump in any part of the body (lymph node), swelling of the abdomen, pain in a bone or joint; repeated infections and illnesses.

Are the medical facilities in Nigeria equipped enough to treat these child patients and how do you help save them?

Many teaching, federal and state hospitals are equipped (to a certain extent) to treat cancer. They certainly have excellent specialists and manpower; if not necessarily the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities.
With respect to children, the specialists are there but more effort needs to be directed into setting up dedicated child cancer units nationwide; a project we are currently working on in collaboration with some agencies.

Does the Nigerian government, at federal and state levels, contribute in any way towards awareness and treatment of child cancer patients?

As I always say, the government is doing what they can do at this point, and we look forward to them being able to do more. However, the government cannot do everything.
At the end of the day, change always begins with the individual units of every system, you and I.

What are the major challenges TDCF faces in its work?

There are many challenges, expected and unexpected. Stigma, superstition, and cultural beliefs are a major challenge. Despite TDCF offering help; some families will reject medical care and take their child to a traditional healer, or a church or some other place.
Funding is another major challenge. Cancer treatment is expensive and can cost anywhere from 1 to 4 million or more in one child. Many Nigerians cannot afford this, and we cannot do our work without our partners.

How do you raise funds to assist your beneficiaries?

We have been blessed to have partners who have believed in our vision and risen to our mission. We also have many individual donations of small amounts. You would be surprised to know that every tiny bit adds up and counts to help these children.

Which is the most touching experience of a child cancer survivor you’ve witnessed so far?

I think it would have to be Inioluwa. A 3-year old (soon to be 4) Wilm’s tumor survivor. She is such an interesting little girl. She is so strong and will hardly ever cry. Even in situations where you expect her to be scared, she just remains cool, you can see the fear in her eyes, but she won’t even cry. When she gets comfortable around you, she is a chatterbox.

There is also Emmanuel, a 4-year old Wilm’s tumour survivor. He is so playful and naughty, and yet so sweet at the same time. He always cheers up the entire office whenever he comes around.

February 15 is International Childhood Cancer Day and it’s five months away, what is TDCF planning for that week?

TDCF is working on a number of projects that we hope to launch before or to coincide with the day.
We are actively right now working to collaborate with stores across the country to put our merchandise on sale in support for children with cancer. It’s called the Children Are Gold Program, and you get to buy a mug, notebook, pen, T-shirt, etc. in support of children with cancer. The merchandise will also be available for delivery from our website.
We also hope by then to have our Dorcas Units (small, dedicated Pediatric cancer units for children) up and running in federal and state hospitals across Lagos state.
We are working towards supporting and maintaining Pediatric Tumour Boards in teaching hospitals in Nigeria
We also hope to release the next volume in our Handbook Series to coincide with the day.


TDCF, Experts List Ways To Tackle Cancer In Children

…Foundation launches handbook series

Cancer is one sickness in the world today that many people fear like death owing to its devastating impact on its victim. To many, it is even a death sentence not because it has no cure, but as a result of the huge financial resources involved in its management coupled with lack of functional treatment facilities.

Currently, Nigeria has no comprehensive cancer treatment centre in place while the few available radiation machines are not working. Yet, the country is witnessing an alarming increase in new cancer cases on daily basis according to experts. More disturbing is that thousands of children are now coming down with the disease annually.

According to reports, the cost of treating cancer both in adults and children, is extremely expensive and beyond the reach of the poor, hence, the survival rate is poor owing to lack of proper treatment in developing countries like Nigeria.

Considering the current economic hardship in the country, where many parents are still struggling to feed their children, experts say, it would be practically impossible, for poor parents whose child is diagnosed of cancer to foot the bills. Even the rich, some experts say can still not afford cancer treatment without necessary support from the government.

The attack of cancer on any member of a family in Nigeria, usually comes with so much pain and grief, owing to the huge amount of money required for both diagnosis and treatment. The World Cancer Report 2014, shows that the disease is now the world’s biggest killer.

Hence, stakeholders are fashioning out more proactive ways of addressing the burden of cost of cancer treatment in Nigeria, especially childhood cancer which they say can be treated or even cured when detected early.

It is against the backdrop that The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF), a non governmental organisation for children living with cancer, is calling on the government and the private sector players to invest in cancer care. This, the foundation said would help in saving the lives of children battling with the ailment in the country, by making treatment accessible and affordable to them, thereby reducing the huge financial burden on the parents who are still struggling to pay out of pocket.

Beside providing financial support for children living with cancer, TDCF, also believes that increased information about childhood cancer and availability of equipment for diagnosis and treatment would boost early detection and survival rate.

Speaking at the launch of the foundation’s Childhood Cancer Handbook Series in Lagos recently, Founder and Executive Director of TDCF, Dr. Adedayo Joseph, said with adequate support and care, no child would die of cancer in Nigeria. Joseph who is a Clinical Radiation Oncologist, said troubled at the way children were dying of cancer in Nigeria and the huge financial challenges faced by their parents, she decided to devote her life for the fight against cancer in children and by providing financial assistance to those currently battling with the disease through her foundation.

Calling on well-to-do Nigerians to support children living with cancer, Joseph noted that children have higher chances of survival than adults when detected early. She explained: “The truth is that many childhood cancers have an excellent prognosis when detected and diagnosed early; promptly and properly treated.

The good thing about childhood cancer is that it has higher survival rate abroad that is close to 90 percent and that is what the TDCF wants to achieve in Nigeria because our survival rate is very low.” Listing other ways to tackle childhood cancer, Joseph urged parents especially mothers to always take their children to the hospital whenever they are ill for proper medical check.

According to her, the Childhood Cancer Handbook Series was written to dispel the stigma associated with the disease and provide parents and physicians with good understanding about facts and myths surrounding cancer. She noted that the foundation, which was established two years ago in memory of late Dorcas Adepitan, a 13-year-old girl, who died of bone cancer in 2015, had so far, sponsored the treatment of four children with many still awaiting sponsorship.

A board member of the foundation, Dr. Peju Daodu, in her welcome address, said though Nigeria is ranked as a developing country, no child should be allowed to die of cancer in the country, going by her huge natural resources. She called on the government to address the challenges in accessing cancer treatment in the country and to also invest in research. “We have to do everything possible to change the face of cancer in Nigeria”, she added.

For President, Cancer Education and Advocacy Foundation of Nigeria (CEAFON), Prof. Abayomi Durosinmi- Etti, a renowned cancer expert, “Cancer is terrible and destructive. Let’s do something about it.” He decried the lack of cancer treatment facilities in the country, stressing that doctors would only work with equipment and not their teeth, while appealing for early diagnosis and proper treatment of the disease in order to reduce the mortality associated with it.

Another renowned oncologist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Prof. Remi Ajekigbe also said, “the poor cannot survive cancer and even the rich do not always survive.” The reason, according to him, is because treatment is either unavailable or, where available, it is extremely expensive.


WORLD CANCER DAY: Foundation Seeks Policies on Childhood Cancer

As the world yesterday marked the 2018 World Cancer Day, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation has called for policies that would change the cause of treatment and management of childhood cancer in Nigeria.

The Foundation also identified lack of access to quality essential medicines, early diagnosis and timely treatment and care as three major reasons why children with cancer in developing countries like Nigeria often do not survive.

Addressing journalists during a Meet and Greet Event tagged: ‘Golden Moment’, organised by The Dorcas Cancer Foundation in Lagos, a Radiation Oncologist, Dr. Adedayo Joseph said Nigeria urgently needs policies that will make things easier for parents with children suffering from cancer as treatment remains very expensive.

Joseph said: “There should be some kind of health insurance that supports children that have to cope with cancer. I cannot tell you how many children that will die because you need an average of N2 million for treatment. Some parents cannot imagine where to find that.

“For those people, you can’t blame them when they go to sit down with a herbalist or go to Churches because when they come to hospitals, they cannot help them without the required money. You have given them no choice than to go to churches or herbalists. There has to be a kind of policy directed to assist children.”

Joseph who is also the Founder, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation, said to fill the gaps in cancer management, there is a need for community and healthcare workers awareness. “The healthcare workers need to be more proactive when it comes to detecting childhood cancers. There is nothing like screening for childhood cancers because there several different types.”

Nigeria Has Less than 10 Pediatric Oncologists

Nigeria doesn’t have up to 10 pediatric oncologists to cover the tens of thousands of children suffering from cancer in the country, the Founder, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF), Dr. Adedayo Joseph, has said.

She said apart from other factors contributing to the increment of childhood cancer, the inadequate number of pediatric oncologists has indirectly led to the increased number of children dying from the dreaded disease.

Stating this during an interactive session to commemorate this year’s World Cancer Day held recently in Lagos, he said only pediatric oncologists have the right expertise to treat childhood cancer and not general doctors.

On prevention, I believe first step is early detection. Cancer in children is not common. The second step is getting the right expert to attend to them. For the fact that I’m an oncologist doesn’t mean I can treat children with cancer, we need a pediatric oncologist to look after them. Those are specialists in children cancer.

Although I have the knowledge but not better than the pediatric oncologists who does it every day. We need the children to be treated by specialists. There are so many children out there living with cancer and are being looked after by general doctors who does not specialise in childhood cancer, she said.

Speaking on other factors, Joseph highlighted; late detection, lack of funds, absence of cancer hospital for children and expensive cancer treatment as factors increasing the burden.

Emphasising on expensive treatment of cancer, she advocated for policies directed at assistance for children living with cancers whose parent cannot afford treatment.

She said: The most important thing is awareness; community awareness and healthcare workers awareness. We need them to pay more attention to children. There is need to be policies when it comes to cancer because treatment of cancer is very expensive but a child doesn’t have to die because their parents can’t afford the treatment, so there have to be some kind of policies on health insurance scheme set up that supports childhood cancer. In my opinion, there should be policy directed assistance, she said.

On accessing quality healthcare and early detection of cancer, the Director, Health Educators, Lagos State, Mrs. Olubunmi Ilawole, noted that the Lagos State health insurance scheme kicking off soon will screen for early detection of cancer at the primary healthcare level, improving quality health services in the state.

The Dorcas Cancer Foundation, Lagos State Partner to Reduce Childhood Cancer

The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF) as part of its effort to reduce childhood cancer in Lagos State has partnered with the state government to achieve this.

Stating this during a courtesy call on the state Ministry of Health recently, the Executive Director, TDCF, Dr. Adedayo Joseph, said the collaboration would ensure that children with cancer in the state survive it.

Our vision as an organisation is to make sure every child with cancer survives, and that is what we are working towards. We are partnering with private individuals, organisations, and the government. The idea is so that we can achieve that goal.

We want a situation where there is a health system that works in such a way that there is early detection, accurate diagnosis, and availability of treatment for persons with cancer in the country, she said.

The philanthropist said she was glad that the state government has pledged its support for the work done by the non-governmental organisation, and for children with cancer in the state. Like I always say, the government can’t do everything. What they can do is to create an enabling environment for everybody to work together for the common good of the people.

On his part, the Director, Disease Control, Lagos State Ministry of Health, Dr. Erinosho Ashimiu Eniola, said the ministry is proud of the what the foundation has done and their achievements so far, adding that the state government was ready to work with them for the benefits of Lagosians.

He said the key to successful treatment of cancer is early diagnosis, adding that the state government has been involved in awareness creation on prevention and need for regular checkups.

Our message is for people to present early, because if they do, it will be easier to treat. Another area we have been championing is for people to be diagnosed correctly.

On what to do to prevent or reduce the risk of cancer, he said healthy dietary habits should be embraced. People should be encouraged to watch what they eat. People should be involved in physical exercise, as it has been shown to help wade off the risk. Sedentary lifestyle is dangerous. Avoiding alcohol and cigarette also plays a major role in reducing risk for cancer, he added.