Stroke, cancer support group launches in Abia

A consortium of non-governmental organizations, namely, Health Development Initiative, Stroke Action and Marjoriebash Foundation, have launched a Stroke/Cancer Support Group in Abia State, to reduce increasing incidences of non-communicable diseases.

It is also aimed at reducing increasing incidences of hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart disease and cancer that are threatening with a high death rate in Nigerian communities and globally and worsened by COVID-19.

Florence Mbogu, chief executive officer, Health Development Initiative (HDI), in an interview with BUSINESSDAY, explained that the launch of a support group in Aba is to stop preventable deaths in the area.

She described as worrisome the way people are dying of preventable diseases, in spite of efforts of hospitals to stop such deaths and called on well-meaning individuals to join the support group, stressing that the team approach enhances everybody and helps home services.

Mbogu, a retired director of public health, observed that the gap between hospitals service and home service, noting that the gap has never been filled.

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According to her, in civilized countries, the support groups are filling the gap. So, we feel it is important to start filling these gaps and working with hospitals to help the survivors and their families. And right now, we are doing it on our own. We are recruiting those who are willing to offer service. We are funding it on our own with the aid of volunteers.

She urged the government to own the programme.

“This programme ought to be owned by the government. When this Stroke Action came to Nigeria, we went to the Federal Government to own it, we started with the Nigeria Stroke Reference Group with all the professionals and para-medicals been members to help as an advocacy team, to direct and advise the government on how we can restructure and reengineer Stroke management in Nigeria, but it has not worked.

She urged people to be part of the support group to increase awareness because people need to know the real picture of these conditions and the management and the new approach.

“We need people to accept it. Some hospitals have not fully understood what we are doing. Some may not even accept working with us. So, they need to understand, because nobody is above knowledge. There is new knowledge every day and people need to update themselves and know where the world is going.

“This approach is World Stroke organization approach, its European and American Stroke Association approach, so we need to key into it. We need to get more organizations to come into it to offer free service or voluntary service to beef up what the hospitals are doing”.

She continued,” And we know the state of our hospitals. We need to start doing something. These patients are suffering. You heard the experiences of our support members, the confidence we have built-in them, and how they are able now to manage and cope, instead of being isolated and stigmatized and die of trauma.

“For the support group team, we need professionals and non-professionals, because everybody has something to contribute”, she stated.

Nancy Onwueyiagba , the coordinator of, Health Development Initiative and Cancer/Stroke Awareness Support Group, explained that the group creates awareness on cancer/stroke-related ailments in local communities to save lives.

She stated that the group rehabilitates those living with stroke after the active stage in the hospital, as well as rewire their brain to make sure they come back to near normal.

She explained also that the support group screen women for cervical and breast cancer, and prostate cancer for men.

According to her, the group also sends the patients to appropriate laboratories for diagnosis, when they suspect something bad.

“And to crown it all, we do navigation here, which means that we trace our patients, follow them up to their various hospitals, to make sure that they receive treatment, as at when due, so that they won’t be frustrated in the hospital”, she stated

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