A Nigerian Mr Runcie Chidebe has won the 2020 International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.
The Award recognises an alumnus or alumna of the U.S. Department of State’s IVLP Program for high achievements driving social change through innovation in their home communities.
A statement issued on Sunday by Daniel Bremer-Wirtig, Director of External Affairs, Global Ties United States of America said Chidebe emerged having lend his voice to health advocacy and civil society activism.
It also stated that Chidebe was a leading voice in making cancer control a national health priority in Nigeria through his foundation “Project PINK BLUE”, which advocated for improved healthcare quality and access to cancer care in Nigeria.
“Through Project PINK BLUE, Chidebe mobilised over 3,000 people each year to walk in cities across Nigeria to create cancer awareness and advocate the Nigerian government to improve cancer care and make health insurance mandatory.
“Chidebe is a health advocate, civil society activist, and his many accomplishments include launching trainings for oncology care, volunteer mentorships, establishing breast cancer support groups.
“He advocated for improved cancer care and mandatory health insurance.
“He also led campaigns to establish the National Institute for Cancer Research and Treatment through an act of the Nigerian Parliament, and sits on several committees to ensure its implementation, as well as other programs for cancer prevention.”
The statement quoted Chidebe as saying that millions of people die from all sorts of inequalities, which are as result of healthcare injustice.
“Of all forms of inequalities, injustice in access to healthcare is one of the most inhuman injustices in Nigeria.
“Citizens are not aware that the right to health is a human right, including access to healthcare of appropriate quality,” the statement quoted Chidebe as saying.
The statement also stated that much of Chidebe’s work was inspired by his participation in the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) on “Youth and Civic Participation.”
In 2016, Runcie visited six U.S. cities — Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Battleboro, VT; Albuquerque, NM; Philadelphia, PA; Austin, TX — where he made several connections that led him to advance his work in Nigeria.
In Texas, he (Chidebe) connected with the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to start the first ECHO palliative online training program for nurses in Nigeria.
A visit to the headquarters of the Susan G. Komen organization in Dallas led to a partnership to translate materials on breast cancer awareness from English to various Nigerian languages.
“My IVLP experience was the most inspiring moment of my life. It gave me direction in civil society, human rights, advocacy, and activism, and helped me gain partnerships and collaboration that has helped me sustain my work.
“I strongly believe that attending the Global Ties U.S. National Meeting will be an amazing opportunity for me to continue to grow my network for the good of my community.
“More importantly, it will be a great opportunity to share how I have benefited from the exchange program.
“It will also be a great inspiration to the 700-plus volunteers across Nigeria that our work is recognised on an international platform.”