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Published On: Mon, Jul 7th, 2014

#SaveYakubuYusuf – using Twitter to raise money in Nigeria

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#SaveYakubuYusufNigeria is renowned for online scams – but not so well known is how widely social media is used by friends and family to fundraise in genuine cases of medical need.

The hashtag #SaveYakubuYusuf has been used more than 6,000 times in Nigeria in the past week. People are calling for donations for 29-year-old Yakubu Yusuf, a psychology student at the University of Lagos, to pay for him to travel to India for treatment for throat cancer. They’re looking for seven million naira ($43,000; £25,000) and are asking people to pay the money into his mother’s bank account.

If you encounter a tweet or Facebook post that comes complete with a plea for help, an emotive image… and bank details, you could be forgiven for raising a sceptical eyebrow. Especially when the country in question is Nigeria, which has a well-deserved reputation for online scams.

But this case is 100% genuine. One of his friends has made a video showing Yusuf in hospital, and others have lobbied influential figures on Twitter to try to get support. “We can’t beat this on our own – we are students,” says Ishola Ebenezer, one of those coordinating the campaign. “Time is not on our side.”

One of those who have been contacted for help is Japheth Omojuwa, a well-known Nigerian blogger with almost 130,000 followers on Twitter. He’s worked on many Twitter fundraising campaigns in the past. #SaveYakubuYusuf is the latest in a series of trends in the country, which have seen friends and family crowdsource funding for medical treatment, he says.

One of the most high-profile was #SaveOJB – to raise money to for a kidney transplant for music producer OJB Jezreel. #SaveBabyKenny was another – this time for a baby with a hole in her heart.

Though many of the social media campaigns have been successful, they shouldn’t have to happen, says Omojuwa. “The underlying reality is of a failed society, of a failed system,” he says.

“I come across these two or three times a week,” says Ronnie Jacobs, founder of Cancel Cancer Africa, which aims to set up four “centres of excellence” on cancer in Africa. Many cases – like this – are genuine, but it pays to be vigilant. “It does happen – there are people who use other people’s illnesses to raise money for themselves.” He recommends anyone fundraising should team up with a recognised cancer charity to collect the money.

Yakubu Adetunji Yusuf is a student of the Department of Psychology, University of Lagos with matriculation number 090904114. Prior to his illness, he was a very active and bubbly student. However, following the severity of his condition, he deferred his admission in the 2011/2012 Academic Session (300 Level).

Having successfully completed Chemoradiation at Eko Hospital, Ikeja on 13th of March, 2014, our friend, brother, classmate and colleague, Mr. Yakubu Adetunji Yusuf is in dire need of N7 million to conclude arrangements for his medical treatment in India.

To this end, the students are calling on well-meaning Nigerians and individuals all over the world to support this cause, described by Prof. Olatunde Makanju (former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos) as “noble and worthy cause … all men/women of goodwill should identify with”.

In the UK, there have been some hugely successful cancer fundraising campaigns on social media – Stephen Sutton raised more than £3m ($5m) for the Teenage Cancer Trust before he died at the age of 19. And – as we reported on this blog – more than £1m ($1.7m) was raised as a result of the #NoMakeUpselfie trend.

Throat cancer refers to cancerous tumors that develop in your throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx) or tonsils.

Your throat is a muscular tube that begins behind your nose and ends in your neck. Your voice box sits just below your throat and is also susceptible to throat cancer. The voice box is made of cartilage and contains the vocal cords that vibrate to make sound when you talk. Throat cancer can also affect the piece of cartilage (epiglottis) that acts as a lid for your windpipe. Tonsil cancer, another form of throat cancer, affects the tonsils, which are located on the back of the throat.

You can reduce your risk of throat cancer by not smoking, not chewing tobacco and limiting alcohol use.

Signs of throat cancer may be difficult to identify in the early stages of the disease. Many symptoms associated with throat cancer are the same as a cold or sore throat.

T

hroat cancer symptoms include: Difficulty swallowing, also known as dysphagia, changes in your voice, sore throat, unexplainable weight loss, swelling of the eyes, jaw, throat or neck, bleeding in the mouth or through the nose, chronic cough.

Some symptoms of throat cancer are specific to certain areas of the body. For instance, changes in your voice may be a sign of laryngeal (voice box) cancer, but would rarely indicate cancer of the pharynx.

As with many cancers, the risk of developing throat cancer increases with age, with most people being over the age of 65. Men are two to three times more likely than women to develop throat cancer in their lifetime.

Risk factors differ depending on where the cancer grows in the throat.

The risk factors include:

Lack of fruits and vegetables: A diet low in fruits and vegetables can increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.

Tobacco use: The use of cigarettes, pipes and cigars all increase the likelihood of developing throat cancer.

Alcohol use: Excessive use of alcohol can increase your throat cancer risks.

Human papillomavirus (HPV) Infection: New research has found that HPV infection is responsible for rising rates of throat cancer, in particular oropharyngeal cancer. Read about the recent increase in HPV-related cancers.

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): When acid leaks from the stomach into the esophagus, it causes acid reflux. Chronic acid reflux is called GERD, and increases throat cancer risk depending on the frequency and severity of the acid reflux.

Contracting epstein-barr virus (EBV): This common virus is transmitted via saliva. Contracting EBV increases the likelihood of developing throat cancer.

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