Of Prevention and Cures – Fighting Cervical Cancer



On either side of the Atlantic, two passionate individuals are taking the fight to cervical cancer. Both are women, have earned the Dr. title and are working tirelessly to save women from a preventable killer disease. What is particularly intriguing is the possibility that neither of them has met the other but are using different means to achieve a common goal; saving lives. These two are a source of inspiration for many. More crucially, they have become role models for millions of young women in developing countries and will motivate them to take up careers in STEM.Two days ago, the UN marked itsInternational Day for Women and Girls in Science.
For centuries, the immense contribution of women to science has been obscured. It is both illuminating and painful to discover advances in physics, chemistry, mathematics, health, programming, space science etc made or contributed to by women whose names have been buried in the footnotes. It is therefore imperative to celebrate those in our time doing such revolutionary work.


Meet our Women Crush Wednesday: Dr Onyedikachi Chioma Nwakanma and Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos.




Dr Nwakanma is a Nigerian doctor using storytelling for health advocacy. She is one of the foremost health advocates in a country where lack of health information increases the burden of disease and leads to thousands of death. She is a strong campaigner for cervical cancer awareness providing prevention, screening and treatment information to half a million people online.











Her impact is not restricted to the intricate highways of the internet. She is as tireless offline where she works on a variety of health programs. She organizes free health outreaches taking quality healthcare to underserved communities. Earlier today, Her Smile With Me NGO carried out a successful free cervical cancer screening program for hundreds of women in Lagos and Abia states. You can find her here on Twitter.




Dr Eva Ramon Gallegos is a Mexican scientist who has been working for two decades to find a cure for human papillomavirus, the pathogen implicated as the known cause of cervical cancer. She is a researcher at the National Polytechnic Institute. How does one keep up such determination and hope for that long? Many would have been discouraged but Dr Gallegos trudged on until a couple of days ago, she achieved her dream. Using photodynamic therapy, she and her team completely eliminated HPV in 29 infected patients. This article details the groundbreaking achievement that we must celebrate given its potential of saving millions of women.



We have a personal interest in this disease and thus all efforts and news like this make us jump for joy. It has always bothered us that something that can be easily treated and prevented still kills so many women. It feels like rainbows to know we now have a cure for the causative infection. There are valid concerns that historically, medical science has not given equal importance to women’s health. It is therefore of striking significance when women achieve feats that close that gap. This cure needs to be made accessible globally so it reaches those who need it the most.


To all the nerds and geeks out there you rock! Your work saves lives and its impact is felt around the world. To all who are working on an innovative solution to the problems facing us, hang in there and be patient. Learn from Dr Gallegos- stay strong, believe in your dream no matter what, keep working at it and don’t accept defeat.

The world awaits your work.

Oumissa,
Lagos Nigeria,
130219







Telling Great Stories in Healthcare – An event review by Chiamaka Nwachukwu

A typical health message from the WhatsApp broadcast grapevine

If you have never received a message like this, then it is very likely you do not have Nigerian relatives.
We live in a world where almost everything is now accessible to anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection. Hence, we have access to all the information in the world-the good, the useless and the downright harmful. This accessibility has come with new opportunities for those of us in the health space, as well as a whole new set of challenges that our medical training may not have completely prepared us for.

Social media is an important tool for anyone who wants to truly thrive in this new world, and even health care providers and advocates have to step up. There is a lot of incorrect and sometimes even harmful information floating about the sociosphere. It is up to those of us who have the right information to ensure that we nullify the effects of all the fallacies, especially as regards health. This is the reason I attended the Social Media Week Health Stories event organised by HelloCare, Doctoora and Digital Health Nigeria.

The event held at the Doctoora Health Hub in Surulere, Lagos and they had this excellent lineup of speakers.

Kemi is everything goals!

I had met him at the beginning, and had no idea who he was until the end of the event! Gosh!

She kept us delightfully engaged!

There were other speakers, but I wasn’t present at those sessions.

I got there super late unfortunately, so I missed the keynote speech by Dr Salako of Redcare HMO and the panel. However, I was still able to join the masterclass with Dr Chioma Nwakanma (Dr Zobo) and I learnt stuff that I felt I just had to write about.

1)Storytelling is a skill you need to master
Think about the guys in the bus that market those herbal medications that supposedly cure premature ejaculation, cancer, TB, stroke, hypertension, diabetes and liver failure. How do they talk about their products? They weave stories that no one can ignore. Then they tell these stories with passion and persuasion.

Most importantly, they tell their stories using scenarios that everyone listening to them can relate with. They have an understanding of their audience and know that Nigerians like “multi-purpose drugs”.They realise that people are moved when they feel like they can mentally connect with a person. So, they use all these to their advantage.

On the other hand think about a typical health talk. Think about the infographics or flyers in a language the people may or may not understand. Think about the medics struggling to ditch their jargon for simpler words, and sometimes failing woefully.

Think about the last time you were counselling a hypertensive patient on lifestyle modifications. Think about how you looked at him/her and knew your words were falling on deaf ears.

Why does it seem like we are losing so many patients to “quacks” who sell them harmful medication? Why is it that, many times, the average person would believe the man on the bus without a WAEC certificate, and completely ignore what the lofty consultant with fancy degrees has told them to do? If we, as health personnel with all our training, are given the opportunity to take over the talk from the man in the bus, would we hold our audience as captive as he did?

This was the masterclass I attended. Go Afro Woman! Haha

These are points she made to highlight why it is important for us in the health space to step up and start to tell health stories correctly. As much as we have the right information, we also need to present our information in the most relatable way possible. It is important that the message in health care is crafted with the audience in mind. The end game is not just to get the information out there. The end game is to package the information and serve it in such a way that it is understood and put into action by your listeners (or readers).

2) Mentors and networks.
Networks are important. Many times, a relationship you have with an influential person is what opens a door for you. Social media has made it a lot easier to connect with potential mentors and important connections.

However, because these VIPs are now supposedly a bit more accessible, they are inundated by numerous people who also want something from them. Hence, to be able to make meaningful connections, you might have to do a bit more than countless LinkedIn messages. She shared these two thoughts:

Giving over taking

This may not be achievable all the time, but it is something to always have in mind. It is easier to forge a relationship with someone when you are giving them help or offering a service. Look at their social media pages. Is there something they are trying to achieve? How can you help? Do you have any skills they might find useful? Can you offer your services? To effectively network or gain good connections, it helps to think more about what you can offer the person, and not so much about what you stand to gain.

Interviews
Interviews can help to break the ice with a potential mentor for example. You could organise an Instagram live session, a YouTube interview, or even a blog interview with someone who is an expert in the field you are interested in. It is a good way to forge a new connection with someone who is far ahead in your field.

This post does not in any way cover most of what was talked about to be honest. However, these I have mentioned resonated with me the most.

This sandwich tasted way better than it looks!

To wrap this up, I have to say that the food was an impressive component of the program. I really appreciated that it was very healthy! I think every health organisation should take a cue from Hellocare Nigeria and Doctoora. It is a bit hypocritical to talk about healthy habits, and then hand out sodas at the end of the event. Let’s practice what we preach!

_____________

Chiamaka is a final year medical student of the University of Lagos, Nigeria and the immediate past editor-in-chief of its Association of Medical Students (AMSUL). She is interested in health management, health policy and public speaking. She reads a lot of random books and has an undying love for frozen yogurt. Her work can also be found on Medium

Health and Books – My Social Media Week Lagos Experience

KhamisLifestyle Read a Book and Go Offline

The two books I just fell in love with at the KhamisLifestyle Social Media Week Lagos Event. I read a few pages from each and was enthralled!
(Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
And A Platter of Gold by Olasupo Shasore).

Two days ago, I hosted a session as CEO, KhamisLifestyle – Story Story: Read a Book And Go Offline with Spa Pampering At Home for its Offline Wellness Studio at the Social Media Week Lagos event. It was all shades of amazing. I had a great time with great participants.

Last Thursday was one of the most hectic and yet rewarding days I’ve had. All morning and afternoon was for the Hellocare Nigeria Telling Great Stories in Healthcare, a Social Media Week Off-Campus event which held at Doctoora Health hub at Surulere.

that smile is what everyone deserves to have.

Then came the rushed cab ride through Costain and Island traffic to Landmark Event Centre, Victoria Island to host the KhamisLifestyle event. I wish I had a helicopter! Of course I got there behind schedule but I had the best facilitators and participants who got things started. (Thank you!)

It was fun being on teams organizing two Social Media Week Lagos events in one day! I thought it was impossible at first but with a solid support system and positive affirmation I pulled through ( This throbbing headache is worth it!)

Harnessing the power of social media to change lives

I am immensely grateful to every single person who helped me do this. The donations, the kind words of encouragement, the listening ears, the backbreaking work, networks , flurry of calls and emails and so much more make me believe that humanity is alive and thriving.

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learnt this past week is “Believe in yourself and your power to do great stuff. Don’t worry, Allah’s got it.”

_________

With Love,

Oumissa

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To Growth in 2019- Things We Must Leave Behind

Take a look through your communications thus far.

Do a deep analysis . The ones we have conversations with shape us in unimaginable ways. We do have to make sure they are of positive impact.

Do the bulk of your communications contribute to growth? Do you find that you don’t have enough time to work on what is important to you?

You might want to take a deep breath, take a glass of red grape juice ( because alcohol is bad for your liver and health in general) and face the arduous task of pruning your conversations.

If all you do is

-Talk about other people’s private business,

– Fight over flimsy things,

– Discuss inappropriate topics you wouldn’t in real life,

– Engage in heated dead-end arguments on incendiary topics like politics or religion,

– Struggle to explain yourself, or feel belittled,

– Be wilfully ignorant, a mansplainer, disrespectful, insensitive or vulgar,

– Spend long hours on meandering conversations with no end or purpose in sight,

You should consider cutting back- a lot – on this conversation/person. There’s way too much toxicity in there. You do not have to be rude. Of course try and work with them to improve things but if they aren’t willing or ready to change, then it’s time to let them go. Appreciate whatever good they’ve brought and send them off on their way with a basket of smiles for flowers.

Cultivate friends and conversations that

– Are about giving back to society.

– Grow you and make you better,

– Inspire you to do things you never thought possible.

– Help you fine-tune your ideas and execute your plans

– Are about exchanging rich, illuminating articles about a wide range of relevant topics.

– Celebrate your accomplishments, are comfortable when your intellect shines forth with almost-blinding radiance,

– Make you laugh with rich humour,

– Expand your horizon, feel your brain literally open up and absorb knowledge,

– Make you feel happy, respected and confident.

Look for these people. Have conversations with them instead.

Be that person.

Because we have to keep being better versions of ourselves, we are done with things or people that prevent us from achieving this. You are too special to be bound to things that diminish you!

That’s the energy we are taking into 2019.

Danke meine damen und herren!

P.S. I think you should read this amazing Medium article by The Startup . It is an easy-to-follow bite-sized guide to growth in 2019 by saying the word ‘No’.

No, you did not read that wrong.

Fun fact: My friend sent it to me. It is the latest in a string of the gazillion cerebral boosts our conversations are made of.

Get a friend like mine.

…………

Wih Love,

Oumissa

Review: The Trespasser by Tana French

“I owe this case. I’ve got beef with this case. I need to shoot it right between the eyes, skin it and stuff it and mount it on my wall, for when my grandkids ask me to tell them stories about way back a million years ago when I used to be a D.”

Tana French- The Trespasser

The story opens with a peep into the protagonist’s troubled childhood. From then on is a regular night in an Irish detective’s beat until she receives a call about a young woman’s murder. You follow Detective Antoinette Conway and Stephen Moran, her loyal partner and favourite colleague. Between them, they examine clues, interview witnesses and associates, go through the mental and physical stress of forensics, fight a threat on her life, stay up staking out their suspects and work together against an often unhelpful bureaucracy.

Tana French- The Trespasser , Flatlay book photo

She battles racism and sexism in her daily life with a dedicated pursuit of excellence at work. This creates more enemies for her. She takes it all in stride and refuses to cower in weakness to her detractors. It is this doggedness that leads her and her partner to uncover the heinous truth of the perpetrator’s identity. In the end, one feels the same sense of triumph they did at ending the chase, the rigmarole of interviews, false leads and interrogation. The betrayal inherent in finding the true killer and how much effort was put into making sure an innocent man took the fall is palpable.

I really enjoyed this book in spite of the fact that it was long, winding and exasperating. Difficulties faced by people othered for gender and colour or even being single in a demanding job are brought up close. You would admire her strength in dealing with male colleagues who do all they can to undermine her work and set her up for dismissal from the force. In addition, there was something endearing about the bond she had with her mother, a highway of dark humour and sharp retorts. It was refreshing to see a professional relationship that was rich, full and enjoyable without becoming romantic. Tana gifts readers with an extra; everyday life in Dublin. The suspense was unbearable at some points but was worth it when the time for reveal came.

This book will have you hooked.  4 stars.

It currently is a prize in a giveaway. Hurry and enter the contest. You just might win.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BraLbHZF0F5/?utm_source=ig_share_sheet&igshid=1krvlegu7j8q5

Tenacity : The Making of Success

Founder of ScaleMyHustle , lawyer, investor and global entrepreneur, @Mochievous received great news today. Her paper on innovation which had earlier been turned down was accepted by the World Bank for its 2019 Conference on Land and Poverty. Her joy was palpable as anyone who has toiled over something similar can testify to.

This has great impact and inspiration for all young people especially young women. News like this encourages them to believe in their dreams, keep working through defeats and sustain confidence that they will succeed. As if one could not be happier to see such heartwarming news, she goes on to offer two lawyers a chance to research and co-author the final work. Way to go! Sharing the spotlight and giving talent some opportunity is a crucial way to hasten development across groups.

Congratulations Moe!

View her Twitter thread here

Too often, we are afriad of taking the next step in our professional , academic or personal life. We must remind ourselves that if we do not try, we will not find out the amazing things we can accomplish. We effectively deny the world of value when we hold back and let fear keep us in a state of limbo. Worse we let rejection dampen out optimism and then we stop.

So please do it and don’t rest until you win.

_______

With love,

Oumissa

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