6 October 2017

Nigeria: How Takes Prostate Cancer Awareness to Football Pitch

In commemoration of the Cancer Awareness Month this year, the HOW Foundation recently embarked on a 'Prostate Cancer Awareness match' in order to create more consciousness on people's minds about what prostate cancer is all about and its danger.

To this end, the HOW Foundation's first 'Blue-State' Charity Match for Prostate Cancer Awareness Month took place on Saturday, September 23, during which four teams and their supporters were hosted at Road 14 Football Pitch, Lekki, Lagos. The football match started with a kick off by the founder of The How Foundation, Dr. Herbert Wigwe.

The competition was between Atletico Sports Club, Soccer Nation, FSG and Access Warriors. Fans of the various football teams were around to cheer and support their favourite. After a series of faceoff on the pitch, Soccer Nation emerged the winner of the tournament and Melody was also announced as the highest goal scorer of the day. The winning team went home with a trophy.

In her welcome address, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation, Ms. Antonia Ally, spoke on the essence of the football match. The match she explained was to create awareness for prostate cancer amongst men and the threat prostate cancer poses to families in Nigeria.

"Prostate cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in Nigerian men. Yet you go to villages and you find out that the average Nigerian man does not know what is prostate cancer. The HOW Foundation has visited villages and local communities and we have found that men above the age of 50 do not even know what the prostate is. Doctors who treat prostate cancer in Nigeria often complain that the patients come to the hospital when the cancer is already showing symptoms which is at the final stages. Some men would slowly die a painful death from the disease while some can manage it but would still be a painful existence, it is clear that early detection is key while awareness and education is first. So we just thought that this would be an opportunity for us to kick off something that is interesting for us to be able to help raise awareness on the disease," she noted.

She explained why the Foundation chose to create awareness through a football match. "Football is in our culture and we all love football in Nigeria, so this is a great opportunity to attract people and let them know what prostate cancer is all about. So this is solely just to raise awareness on prostate cancer," she noted.

Ally emphasised that early detection is key to curbing the disease, stressing that men from the age of 40 should get checked regularly.

Speaking further, Ally said, "Statistics in Nigeria are very hard to find so we have done our own surveys, we have found that with a population as high as Nigeria, there is little or no public funding for the disease. This is the first edition and being the first, there is room for improvement and also, we are using this as a learning process so we would now know what we can do to make it bigger so as to impact a wider audience."

Ally who said the awareness football match was a test run to see how effective it would help spread the knowledge about prostate cancer in Nigeria, opined that because prostate cancer is mostly found amongst the elderly it was not necessary to conduct screening along with the maiden edition of the awareness match, adding,, "For now we are not doing any screening reason being that everybody here is really young. If we had done any screening here now, there is the possibility that if we do 200 person, only one person would positive for prostate cancer, which doesn't make so much sense.

Besides, she explained further HOW is not financially ready to provide treatment for those who may be found positive, noting, "Right now we do not have the financial capacity to say we want to do a test for people. Besides, if we do and we find that 10 people are positive, we may not be able to provide treatment for them right now, so it is better for us to not even start something that we cannot finish."

She explained further that the awareness campaign in Lagos is the pilot which would be used to test run the effect of the awareness on Nigeria, adding, "This is the pilot event and we would use this to now know where we need to improve and what are the next steps to take before we say we want to put money to do it in a more elaborate way.

"The HOW Foundation is passionate about prostate cancer in Nigeria; more specifically we are passionate about raising awareness. Statistics around the world vary as to the ages and how many men contact the disease in a year, it is however clear that this disease is more common amongst black men, one in every three men are likely to contact the disease if they have a family history of prostate cancer," she added.

The How Foundation's Blue-State charity football match was well attended and the essence of the competition was achieved as a lot of people were educated on the dangers of not detecting prostate cancer early enough.

The How Foundation was on July 20, 2016 with main focus to help educate on the possibilities of malaria eradication in Nigeria, prostate cancer awareness and youth leadership.

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