Runcie Chidebe

Transforming and Leading in Healthcare - MSc

Runcie is changing the lives of cancer sufferers in Nigeria, after being awarded a € 20,000 grant to set up a Psychological Support Centre.

“The idea started as a module assessment during my time studying the MSc in Transforming and Leading in Health Care at Birmingham City University. The aim of the Centre is to provide mental health support directly to more than 5,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer and indirectly to over 50,000 individuals by December 2022. 

I created a GoFundMe page to raise £7,521 and now I have received €20,000 from the Advanced Breast Cancer Global Alliance.

The skills and knowledge acquired from BCU will now help to support the mental health of many cancer patients in Nigeria. A diagnosis of cancer and its treatment bring about many physical impacts, which negatively impact on the mental wellbeing of patients. I am so thankful for the donations, which have inspired me to keep promoting this initiative.

In 2017, as the executive director of Project PINK BLUE, a cancer fighting, non-profit organisation in Nigeria, I applied for a grant from an international organisation. We managed to pass all of the different stages and were at the final hurdle, but unfortunately weren’t selected to receive the grant. When requesting feedback, we were told that I, as the project lead,  did not have sufficient research qualifications to implement the research project in Nigeria. Simply put, the reviewer meant that I do not have a postgraduate degree sufficient to implement the project. I was angry, because on the project team, we have professors, doctors and statisticians. My ego was threatened and I felt so frustrated. My philosophy has always been to stop complaining about how bad a problem is and contribute to the solution. Therefore, I decided to fix the problem, instead of lamenting about it. That’s how I found the MSc in Transforming and Leading in Health Care at Birmingham City University.  

I love my job as executive director, being able to help cancer patients with information, helping metastatic breast cancer patients access palliative care, being a voice for the indigent patient and most importantly being useful in my community gives me so much joy. It was emotionally challenging to leave that community for a postgraduate degree in another country. But I’m a firm believer that we need self-development at every point in our life. It was also a financial challenge to pay for my tuition and other expenses at BCU, so I was delighted to receive the Commonwealth Scholarship.

I’m really proud of my course, MSc Transforming and Leading in Health Care. I think it’s one of the most significant Master’s programmes for anyone interested in making a difference in the health care system, anywhere in the world. It has provided me with a greater understanding of myself, my strengths, my limitations, my identity and how my behaviour and actions as a health care leader can transform the health care system. For me, the better understanding of my potential through the innovative Intelligent Behaviour Analytics (IBA) is the best accomplishment so far.

As a result of my work creating awareness about cancer, engaging in policy change, advocating for Nigerian countries, and the importance of making health insurance mandatory for everyone, I was invited to the US Government International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). Through this, I was able to visit over 16 cities in the US and lots of institutions. From this, I was able to take back all of the knowledge I learnt from these institutions to Nigeria.

In Nigeria, I created multiple programmes, and was able to bring along two doctors from my US trip to train 16 doctors and 36 nurses in Nigeria. We started the first ever breast cancer support group in my city and also got lots of materials from the US and translated those materials into the local language. I believe it is important to be more inclusive in content creation, translating materials for the local people and using images of local people too. Over 20,000 leaflets have been distributed to help the local people of Nigeria with important information about cancer. As a result of this work, I was lucky enough to be a key note speaker at the IVLP 80th anniversary celebration and won the 2020 IVLP Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change.

Before coming to BCU, I had one goal, which was to learn from all and share with all. To be specific, I wanted to learn from the best and put that knowledge towards contributing to my community upon my return to Nigeria. Right now, it’s really tough and not as easy as I expected. However, it’s worth it - my research skills are taking on a new dimension, and my understanding of myself and global health has changed and improved ten-fold. I am now reading more about other countries than just my own and having a multi-cultural perspective on healthcare is phenomenal.

My favourite thing about BCU was definitely my course! Today’s world is facing the greatest healthcare challenge of all time and my course activated us to think through it from personal and global perspectives, to become a solution in any way we can.

For me, #IAMBCU means being a tiger! It means being brave, confident, strong and having the courage to achieve anything that I want to change the world.”

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