Runcie Chidebe: The Nigerian Medical Powerhouse Championing Cancer Patient Navigation Programme

Cancer is one of the world’s leading mortality phenomenon since the 1950s as the world experts and researchers have continued to develop innovative measures to stem down the rise alongside constant info-educative efforts all around the globe, and here in comes Nigeria’s cancer-control advocate, Runcie Chikeruba Wilson Chidebe.

Born 26, December 1985 in Talata Mafara , Zamfara, the Oba-Idemili-Anambra state native, Runcie was exposed to the cancer rates among women in his community, thereafter fuelling his drive to provide adequate measures to provide women access to proper and immediate care for the screening of women and women battling uterine, breast and cervical cancer.

He is the founder and Executive Director [E.D] of Project PINK BLUE– Health & Psychological Trust Centre, a Nigerian cancer not-for-profit organization engaging in cancer awareness, free cancer screenings, advocacy, patient navigation and support to indigent women battling with cancer.

He began his cancer advocacy while serving the mandatory National Youth Service Corps schedule at Abuja, holding community-based breast cancer campaigns that saw him lead free screening and counselling to indigenous women of Kabusa, Kuje and Kubwa regions and therafter creating his own organisation called Project PINK BLUE.

Project PINK BLUE has a toll-free telephone center, certified by the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, providing resources and a listening ear for those affected by cancer. It began operations after servicing the suburb of Abuja metropolis in 2013 and has in recent years adopted the engagement of celebrities to bring the need for early detection of and treatment about cancer to limelight.

In 2015, the organisation launched Nigeria’s first Patient Navigation Programme (PNP) with support from Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) & Pfizer Oncology. Annually, Project PINK BLUE mobilizes over 3,000 people to walk against in Abuja during the World Cancer Day and over 1,000 in Lagos during the October international breast cancer awareness month.

Project PINK BLUE has reached millions of Nigerians in different states with cancer awareness in local languages, trained 185 doctors and nurses, and implemented over 33 funded projects with our team and 707 volunteers across Nigeria. In 2017, Project PINK BLUE launched the first Cancer Support Group in Abuja with nine patients, however, has now grown with over 59 cancer patients – providing peer support to each other. In 2018, the largest prostate cancer project in Nigeria – Men on Blue, providing screening for 1661 men in rural communities was launched.

Continuing the screenings and awareness project, Project PINK BLUE realized that there is a huge gap in better treatment for the cancer patients in Nigeria – medical doctors cannot give what they don’t have, hence, the launch of a new initiative known as Upgrade Oncology, with the support from U.S. Department of State and U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, 44 Nigerian doctors were trained in medical oncology. In November 2018, another partnership with Transcorp Hilton Abuja, Dana Air and AIT to raise funds for cancer patients through auctioning of some Nigerian celebrities, known as Show Love was established.

Project PINK BLUE also works and supports Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) in cancer prevention, control and health system strengthening. The organisation also belong to a number of global consortium and affiliations, working with donor agencies and research centres to improve cancer care and treatment in Nigeria. With over 1,000 volunteers, Project PINK BLUE is changing the way Africans think about cancer.

Championing the cancer awareness, screening and treatment efforts in the country, Project PINK BLUE has enjoyed awards, grants and support from notable entities like the Nelson Mandela-Graca Machel Fellowship Program Innovation Award; Global Shapers Community Abuja, I AM BOLD Award, Shape Africa [2014]; SPARC MBC Challenge Award [2015], isbon Portugal; Catherine Pouget Research Award, Lyon, France; 2018 World Cancer Day Spirit Award in Malaysia; Distinguished Advocacy Award by the USA Government and many other recognitions in Nigeria and across the globe.