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NGO launches first psychological support centre for cancer patients in Abuja

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PROJECT PINK BLUE (PPB), a cancer-fighting non-governmental organisation, is set to launch the first psychological support centre (PSC) for cancer patients in Abuja.

The centre will support patients facing severe mental health disorders. 

The Advanced Breast Cancer Global Alliance, a global coalition focused on improving and extending the lives of women and men living with advanced breast cancer, funds the centre. 

The centre will provide a weekly psychotherapeutic clinic led by clinical psychologists for cancer patients.

A statement signed by PPB’s Executive Director Runcie Chidebe and mailed to The ICIR said the centre would provide a death and grief programme, art therapy, psychological assessment, personal and group therapy, family and caregivers support, and doctor-patient support.

It will also provide a wellness and resilience programme, psychological training for healthcare workers, psychological awareness and the creation of a virtual psychological support system for patients who live outside Abuja. 

 The centre opens to patients from May 1.

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PPB said over 100,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in Nigeria. Less than two per cent of them received any professional psychological support after diagnosis and treatment. 

He said that happened because there was no dedicated, professional, psychological care or mental health support for the patients and their caregivers in many cancer hospitals. 

“A diagnosis of cancer and its treatment impacts physically on the patient. It could lead to loss of body parts, such as the breast(s), limbs, and other physical challenges, which could negatively affect the mental well-being of cancer patients. 

“In Nigeria, most cancer patients receive the ‘bad’ news of “you have cancer” from their doctors, surgeon, or the diagnostic centres without any psychological counsellor.”

The PPB said over 20,000 cancer patients were at risk of severe mental health disorders because of cancer diagnosis in Nigeria, adding that mental health disorders could affect cancer treatment and quality of life. 

President ABC Global Alliance and Director Breast Unit, Champalimaud Clinical Center, Portugal Fatima Cardoso, a doctor, said her organisation was proud to support the creation of the centre in Abuja. 

She said cancer patients needed to be fully supported physically and psychologically to overcome the disease.

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 The wife of Kebbi State Governor Zainab Shinkafi-Bagudu, a doctor, and Professor of Clinical Psychology Chioma Asuzu are co-chairs of the centre’s Steering Committee, which has members from different parts of the country.  

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