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An Address Presented By The Executive Director Of Lift Above Poverty Organization (LAPO), Sabina Idowu-Osehobo During Advocacy Visit To The Executive Secretary, Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (Edsphcda) On Thursday, January 30th 2020.

· The Executive Secretary, EDSPHCDA

· Key officials of the Agency in attendance

· Ladies and Gentlemen

It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to address the Executive Secretary, EDSPHCDA and key officials of the Agency on behalf of Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO) and our partners implementing MCH and cancer control activities in the State: Partners for Survival (PFS), Ubiaja, Rehabilitation Initiative for Counselling and Health Care (RICH), Benin City, The Initiative for Rehabilitation and Care for Health and Community Development (INRECA), Benin City and PayMedix, Benin City. We truly appreciate this opportunity.

LAPO is a leading non-governmental organization that is committed to the social, health and economic empowerment of the poor and the vulnerable across the country. The organization was founded by Dr Godwin Eseiwi Ehigiamusoe in 1987 while working as a Rural Cooperative Officer in Ogwashi-Uku in the defunct Bendel State. Over the years, the organisation has demonstrated an uncommon commitment to poverty alleviation through the implementation of innovative credit and non-credit empowerment programmes targeting the disadvantaged groups. LAPO programmes include gender sensitization aimed at reducing the level of gender-based inequity, social exclusion and socio-economic burden of ill-health by focusing attention on preventive health services. The vision of LAPO is a healthy and informed society characterized by prosperity, justice and equity.

In 2016, The Founder of LAPO, Dr Godwin Ehigiamusoe, initiated the project: LAPO Community Campaign for Cancer Control (LAPO-C4) for implementation across Lagos, Edo, Imo, Rivers and the FCT-Abuja to address the increasing rate of cancer death in Nigeria through improved local actions for awareness creation, provision of basic screening and referral services. Main barriers to cancer control in Nigeria include inadequate awareness and poor access to screening services at the community level. The project areas of interventions include (1) Awareness creation outreaches on prostate, breast, cervical, liver and childhood cancers; (2) Basic screening services at primary health care level for breast, cervical and prostate cancers; (3) Strengthening community response through the establishment of Community Cancer Control Committees/ Ward Development Committees (WDCs) and; (4) Strengthening community – health facility referral linkages for uptake of services

The major hindrance to the achievement of LAPO-C4 project objectives in the first phase of implementation between November 2016 and October 2018 include inadequate access to cancer screening facilities in target communities, and where available, the cost is largely unaffordable to poor community members. The need for improved access to basic cancer screening services across the State cannot be overemphasized. The best approach is the integration of cancer control services, including the inclusion of HPV vaccine in the routine immunisation schedule of the primary health care. This is in accordance with the 2018 – 2020 Nigeria National Cancer Control Plan (NCCP).

The LAPO-C4 screening services are limited to basic screening for detection of pre-malignant conditions that can be provided at the primary health care level. These include PSA, VIA and Clinical Breast Exam (CBE). The services also include referrals from PHCs to secondary or tertiary health facilities for effective management of precancerous lesions (NCCP, 2018 – 2022). To enable us achieve this effectively, LAPO-C4 is requesting for the support of Edo State MOH to enable the project work with medical personnel and facilities across the State.

Also, LAPO is commencing a project partnership with PayMedix, a Benin-based software development company for the 247Medic Pilot Project. The project is aimed at promoting access of community members, irrespective of their location, to quality healthcare through mobile technology. The 247Medic APP provides an online medical consultation, drug prescription and advisory platform: providing patients in cities and rural area the facility to call or chat with a doctor, request on-site laboratory services at the comfort of their homes and get drugs delivered to their doorsteps. 247Medic also provides end-users with the opportunity to store their medical history and share it with their healthcare providers. 247Medic delivers affordable and time-saving healthcare services through phones and computers. LAPO and its partner, PayMedix are requesting for partnership with government for the success of this project in the State.

The LAPO is, therefore, requesting for the following support and partnership from the Government of Edo State:

1. Approval of referral linkage between LAPO MCH project and government health facilities to enable the project leverage on the services of existing public hospitals for maternal and child health services.

2. Approval of LAPO-C4 partnership with primary health facilities in the State. This will enable the PHCs personnel to provide CBE, VIA and PSA screenings and referral services to secondary and tertiary facilities. The staff of the selected facilities will be trained and equipped for the services delivery and

3. Approval the implementation of 247Medic Pilot Project in selected PHCs and or general hospitals across the three zones. The selected facilities will be designated as the e-Health centres where clients can consult with doctors electronically and receive treatment services accordingly.

I wish to use this opportunity to appeal to the government to institute a policy on cancer treatment support for indigent individuals considering the enormous financial burden of managing the ailment in Nigeria. I also wish to seize this opportunity to call on well-meaning individuals and corporate organizations to support LAPO in the implementation of cancer prevention and MCH projects in the country.

I appreciate the opportunity given me to address the Executive Secretary and key officials of EDSPHCDA which is an indication of your commitment to the improved health status of the people of Edo State.

Thank you and God bless.

Sabina Idowu-Osehobo

Office of the Executive Director

Lift Above Poverty Organisation (LAPO)

Date: 30th January 2020

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