What is Dementia Friends Nigeria?
The Dementia Friends programme was launched in Nigeria on 28 January 2016 by Dementia Nigeria and with support and guidance from Alzheimer’s Society. Using the UK’s Dementia Friends programme outline and materials, adaptations were made to roll the programme out to change the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition. In the space of a few months there were over 21 Dementia Friends Champions in 19 of the 36 states.
Each Champion was given a target of creating 100 Dementia Friends, and Information Sessions were delivered in schools, hospitals, places of worship and elsewhere within the villages and towns. Through this word of mouth people’s perceptions and attitudes towards dementia have begun to change, and over 80,000 people have now become Dementia Friends.
The most popular strategy employed by Dementia Friends Nigeria was to get individual key respected members of the community engaged in the programme to give the Dementia Friends messages weight.
First Anniversary Celebration
Since January 2016 the Nigeria Dementia Friends programme has gone from strength to strength. A huge success is the recent appointment of His Imperial Majesty, Oba Saliu Olasupo Adetunji, The Olubadan of Ibadanland, as the Grand Patron of Dementia Friends Nigeria. Since becoming Grand Patron he has attended large awareness raising events and hosted the one year anniversary celebration of Dementia Friends Nigeria on 4 February 2017.
February 4 was a day packed not just with celebration of Dementia Friends Nigeria. It was also overflowing with education, healthcare and compassion. Some of the highlights were:
- Dental Health care and support – courtesy Odofin Oyindamola Adesola-Solanke and her team gave bright smiles to delegates;
- Nigerian Non-Communicable Diseases Alliance gave new meaning to multi-disciplinary approach to health care;
- Dave Omokaro Foundation – gave updates on the efforts to get ratification on Policy on Ageing for Nigeria;
- Akinyele Local Government shared their success story on the issue of care of the elderly;
- Alafia Hospital carried out health screening for over 300 delegates;
- Iyom Anenih’s personal encounter with issues of dementia care in Nigeria was shared;
- Coinciding with Cancer Day, Dr Omowunmi Ahmed and her team carried out cervical/prostrate cancer screenings on the delegates;
- Oyo State Ministry of Women Affairs renewed their pledge to give support to all in need of social care within the State;
- Ahmed Teslim Aremu Tescom and Timothy Adegunle Seye gave one to one sessions to delegates who wished to know more about dementia;
- The Olubadan’s Palace team, and the Chiefs vowed to hold more dementia awareness events, as they thanked all who gave up their weekend to support and participate at the event.
- A special “thank you” to the Provost of St Davids Cathedral Church, Very Reverend Alalade-Ayinla, and his colleague Venerable Oke for providing a loving environment as venue for the event.
How has the programme helped communities?
Dementia Friends Nigeria’s one year anniversary event is taking place on the 4 February 2017 in the centre of ancient Ibadan. Already there is a growing sense of excitement and enthusiasm and people from across the States of Nigeria have confirmed their attendance. The venue location was chosen by Oba Saliu Olasupo Adetunji himself as he wanted everyone, ‘from market women, farmers and craftsmen to have the opportunity to celebrate and to learn about dementia’.
Kikelomo Edwards describes, ‘The transformation of those communities in just months is astounding! Now we have people within those communities talking openly about their family members who are living with Dementia! They are no longer ashamed. They no longer feel the need to hide’.
Rolling out a Dementia Friends programme in Nigeria isn’t an easy feat. With a population of over 180 million covering an area of almost 400,000 square miles, it is challenging to spread the word far and wide. Kikelomo explains ‘To say the roads are not the best in the world is a gross understatement; the supply of electricity, telephone and internet is very unreliable in many parts of the country. The poor are very poor. I commend all those who volunteer their time and efforts in this awareness campaign amidst all these odds!’