Project PINK BLUE is changing the way Africans think about cancer.

BREAST CANCER NAVIGATION AND PALLIATIVE PROGRAMME (BCNPP) is a cancer care programme with two interventions: Patient Navigation and Support to Women battling Metastatic/Advanced Breast Cancer.

BCNPP is designed to educate nurses, cancer survivors, non-clinical social workers and retired midwives across Nigeria to become Professional Patient Navigators who can educate cancer patients, guide them and assist women battling with cancer with basic psychotherapy with the goal of alleviating their pains. The oncology nurse navigators were through BCNPP are trained to provide optimum Palliative Care to Women battling with Metastatic/Advanced Breast Cancer.

The Following Are Key Interventions:

  1. PATIENT NAVIGATORS:are trained, culturally competent health care workers who work with patients, families, physicians and the health care system to ensure cancer patients’ needs are appropriately and effectively addressed.
  2. TOLL FREE TELEPHONE CENTRE ON CANCER CARE08000CANCER (08000226237): this is Nigeria’s first telephone support centre for cancer care; the general public can call-in for information on cancer, referral on breast cancer diagnosis, treatment, palliative care, support and link up to breast cancer survivors.
  3. METASTATIC BREAST CANCER & PALLIATIVE CARE:over 70- 80% of breast cancer patients present with advanced stages III or IV and hence already have a reduced chance of survival. The trained nurses would provide palliative care in the facility and also provide homecare to women battling with advanced/metastatic breast cancer.

GOAL: To empower women at risk of, or living with advanced breast cancer and to reduce incidence of stage III or IV breast cancer in Nigeria.

Patient Navigation in Nigeria

Patient Navigation was a new practice in Nigeria until 2014, when Dr. M.O. Nwaneri, a famous Nigerian medical oncologist, haematologist, and Associate Professor of Internal Medicine came back from U.S.A. to Nigeria to practice. Dr. Nwaneri cared for several cancer patients from different parts of Nigeria and painfully over 70% of the cancer patients in his clinic presented metastatic and advanced cancers. It is on this premise that he realized that several cancer patients in Nigeria faced innumerable barriers in accessing cancer care likened to the barriers faced by cancer patients in Harlem, a community in New York where Dr. Harold P. Freeman founded patient navigation.

Dr. Nwaneri developed several materials and guidelines for assisting and ameliorating the barriers for accessing cancer care at St. Nicholas Hospital where he practiced in Lagos. He started working with Runcie C.W. Chidebe, a psychologist, cancer control advocate and the Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE; and they developed a professional patient navigation programme for Nigeria. Chidebe and Nwaneri succeeded to develop a patient navigation programme focused breast cancer, considering that breast cancer was the most prevalent cancer in Nigeria. They also engaged breast cancer survivors in the patient navigation programme and it was then called Breast Cancer Navigation Programme (BCNP).

On 4th February, 2015, which was World Cancer Day 2015, the first patient navigation programme was launched in Nigeria with the name – Breast Cancer Navigation Programme (BCNP) by Project PINK BLUE at Wazobia Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja. The unveiling of the Patient Navigation programme was done by Dr. Khaliru Alhassan, the Supervising Honourable Minister of Health who was represented by Dr. Ramatu Hassan, the National Coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP), she was assisted by Dr. B.A. Abimiku, President of Nigerian Cancer Society (NCS); Dr. Yakubu Ahmed, Chief Medical Director, Usman Danfodio Teaching Hospital, Sokoto; Queen Princess Onyechere, Finest Girl Tourism and Runcie C.W. Chidebe, the Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE. Please click here to watch the video of the launch:

After the launch, two female breast cancer survivors, namely – Ms. Gloria Orjia and Mrs. Khadijat Banwo-Fatai; one male breast cancer survivor and Runcie C.W. Chidebe kicked off the patient navigation using Closed User Group (CUG) telephone system. They assisted cancer patients and it laid the foundation for modifying the programme.

In May 2015, Runcie C.W. Chidebe and the team developed a grant proposal and submitted to the Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge.

In November 2015, Project PINK BLUE won the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) – Pfizer Oncology Seeding Progress and Resources for the Cancer Community (SPARC) Metastatic Breast Cancer Challenge (SPARC) Metastatic Breast Cancer (MBC) challenge grant at the Advanced Breast Cancer Conference, Lisbon, Portugal.

Through the grant, Project PINK BLUE organized a Strategic Planning Meeting with 26 stakeholders on March 24th 2016 chaired by the National Coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) of the Federal Ministry of Health and World Health Organization (WHO). On March 30th 2016 a Sensitization Forum on patient navigation and palliative care was organized for ninety-nine (99) nurses, social workers, cancer survivors and retired midwives from the six (6) area councils of Abuja FCT. In April 2016, Runcie C.W. Chidebe travelled to New York, U.S.A. to meet with Dr. Harold P. Freeman, the founder and father of Patient Navigation. Chidebe met with Dr. Freeman and his team at the famous H.P. Freeman Patient Navigation Institute in New York; they discussed on the key relevant issues and the institute decided to support the setting up of the patient navigation programme in Nigeria. They also provided technical support and several monitoring and evaluation materials.

Afterwards, forty-two (42) nurses, breast cancer survivors and retired matrons were selected from the sensitization forum and was trained as from 28th November – 2nd December, 2016 by a professional patient navigator- Laurie Tauriainen of Sarah Canon Research Institute, Dallas, Texas, USA, who came to Nigeria through Fulbright Specialist Program of the U.S. Department of State.

Presently, a professional patient navigation programme is running at National Hospital Abuja and across the six (6) area councils of Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja with a toll free telephone centre sited at Project PINK BLUE office (Reports of the different activities are available upon request).

Origin of Patient Navigation

In 1990, Dr. Harold P. Freeman conceived and initiated Patient Navigation in Harlem, New York. This original program focused on the critical window of opportunity to save lives from cancer by eliminating barriers to timely care between the point of a suspicious finding and the resolution of the finding by further diagnosis and treatment. Commonly experienced barriers to timely care in the Harlem study were as follows: financial barriers, such as no health insurance, communication and information barriers, medical system barriers, fear, distrust, and emotional barriers.

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