All of us at MEDICAID CANCER FOUNDATION made a strong statement this WCD by lighting up two landmarks in Abuja, the capital city of Nigeria and the largest black country on earth. The monuments are National Mosque and National Ecumenical Centre, in orange and blue! What is the statement? I will explain.
Religion is big influencer of health seeking behavior in my country. Leaders of both Christian and Muslim faiths are able to sway many reactions, including how patients respond to chronic or even terminal diseases. They are community gatekeepers. This can be positively but to be honest, it is mostly negative. This phenomenon is quite common across Africa.
Phrases used by newly diagnosed patients with cancer include “it is not my portion” or “I reject it”. These thought processes are fortified by pastors who preach miracles, without emphasizing the importance of seeking medical help. A principle that brings much delay, upstaging and metastasis of cancer. I often quote the following verses to buttress my point. There are many more.
The Bible James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? Faith without works is dead
Similarly in the Islamic Hadith, The Prophet (PBUH) came upon a Bedouin with a loose camel. He asked him “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet then replied, “Tie your camel first, and then put your trust in Allah.”
Undoubtedly, our light up action will be noticed by religious leaders and followers of both faiths in the city. We use this to call on our religious leaders to continue to lend their voices to cancer awareness and efforts to bridge the care gap.
Your voices speaks to the consciousness of our nation, your voices translate to action across our public and private lives. We need you more than ever to lead the advocacy for cancer prevention, access to quality screening and treatment services in Nigeria.
We lit both monuments at once to demonstrate EQUALITY AND INCLUSION. Obviously, before such a light up, we sought permission from the councils of the mosque and church. This has triggered a relationship at the national level on our advocacy. We will continue to work with the institutions. It is my ardent hope that the momentum will continue to build and soon we will celebrate real-world progress.