Cancer Centre begins local training to sustain services
*U.S. oncologists visit NSIA-LUTH facility, offer technical support, draft curriculum for staff on effective operations
As part of efforts to sustain the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA)/ Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Cancer Centre, the management has started training of its manpower and has partnered with a team of oncologists from the United States (U.S.) to draft work model curriculum for the staff and effective operations.
Chief Medical Director at LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, and Director of the Cancer Centre, Mignionette Crause, told journalists during a recent media tour of the facility that the managers of the centre are taking proactive measures on its sustainability by devising a deliberate plan for continuous training of competent and sufficient personnel to manage the centre in fulfillment of its mandate as a centre of excellence and a flagship for cancer treatment in West Africa.
They said the equipment suppliers, Messrs Varian of Palo Alto, are providing capacity building by building a training centre at the hospital in support of its commitment to human capacity development in radiotherapy across the West African sub-region.Crause expressed confidence on the capacity of the staff at the centre to meet emergent demands. “The nurses in the chemo-therapy department are highly trained oncology nursing practitioners who are on the label of general practitioners in South Africa. They have exceeded first graduate degrees in oncology and dermatology and they know how to run the chemo-therapy department,” she said.
Crause said the centre is conscious of the huge demand on investing on its staff to achieve its objectives and is leaving no stone unturned in vital areas of handling the overtly sophisticated and expensive equipment of the centre, with great emphasis on maintenance.
Also, the Cancer Centre recently opened its doors to a group of clinical specialists from the United States of America led by Prof. Adedayo Onitilo, an oncologist at Marshfield Clinic at Weston. Crause said it was a non-compensatory volunteer mission basically on a “show and tell” interaction to offer technical support, collaborate and advice to the center.
While visiting, Onitilo was excited on the team’s trip to LUTH, especially seeing the cancer centre embark on the clinical application of newly procured radiation and medical oncology equipment. Onitilo said: “Based on the request from LUTH and NSIA, our goal is to collaborate and assess readiness of LUTH to provide modern oncologic care to patients, assess the equipment, practitioners and environment in terms of care delivery and safety. The team of clinical specialists has worked together for about a decade. Our engagement will be a non-compensatory volunteer mission, basically a ‘show and tell’ interaction with the LUTH team offering technical support and advice.
“On this trip we have a comprehensive cancer care team consisting of medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, nurse practitioner/navigator, dosimetrist, physicist and therapist. But we are glad to meet individuals that are highly qualified in their own right in the field of medical and radiation oncology. We have also received support from the equipment vendors, therefore our role and responsibility will be that of an independent outside observer with vast experience in day-to-day cancer care.”
The medical dosimetrist is a part of the radiation oncology team, which includes a radiation oncologist, medical physicist, radiation therapists and oncology nurses. Medical dosimetrists ensure that radiation treatment promotes the most lethal radiation dose with the fewest side effects to the patient’s healthy organs.
The delegation had six other specialists and cancer care specialists. Alongside Onitilo, a medical oncology researcher in palliative medicine, others were Patricia K. Lillis, hematology and oncology; Mr. Xuan Hu, a physicist specialized in radiation therapy; Jessica M. Engel, Oncology/Haematology nurse practitioner; Linda K. Brock (CMD), Locum Dosimetrist; and Dana R.T. Peterson, a radiation therapist.
While in Nigeria, the team brainstormed and developed a draft based on their assessment, direct interaction with patients and classroom style brainstorming sessions with local personnel.The draft, designed over a nineteen-day period, targets developing a work model curriculum for the training of LUTH staff for improved staff strength and effective operations. The visit featured an orientation programme with the staff. The team also toured the center on assessment of the available equipment; exchanging ideas on safety and quality standards, pumps, ports, clinic set-up, intake, consultation, treatment planning, tumor board, multidisciplinary team, chemo database, orders, documentation, screening and outreach.
Checks were also carried out to examine the state of various departments, responsibilities of team members as well as carrying out reviews of treatments, protocols and policies of the center.
The team had discussions on tumours seen in local region, treatment philosophy, and integration with medical oncology, follow-up plans, and charting a database for the centre. The experts also reviewed cases handled by the center and embarked on educating the staff on patient’s care and clinical related topics. To promote sustainability, the delegation proposed developing a plan to monitor the prospects and challenges of the center if the institution must accomplish the task, which has been cut out for it in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa.
The delegation also counselled on continuous training for the entire local staff through forums such as conferences and engagement of international professionals.Bode commended the selfless service rendered by Prof. Onitilo and his team even as he promised to ensure that the training centre within the hospital is promptly completed and put to effective use.
The paediatric surgeon said the impact of this intervention is better appreciated against the grim statistics of cancer incidence in this clime. Bode said with a population peaking at 200 million people, the country records an estimated 102,000 new cases of cancer yearly and records indicate that cancer claims 72,000 lives annually, with breast and cervical cancer responsible for 50.3 percent of all reported cases.
He said the fight against the killer ailment deserves all seriousness. Therefore, the multi-billion NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre, acclaimed as one of the largest investments in public healthcare provides a state-of-the-art citadel for overall management and treatment of various cancer cases.Bode said the initiative became imperative to grant access and affordable treatment to categories of Nigerians who ordinarily should enjoy comprehensive healthcare within the shores of Nigeria.
He said the centre is one of the best in West Africa with a capacity to handle more than 300 patients per day.The NSIA-LUTH partnership is expected to address key challenges against Nigeria’s efforts in the treatment and management of cancer over the years. These are lack of access to radiotherapy, shortage of trained staff and maintenance of existing equipment.
However, Bode said the facility, already attending to patients from all parts of the country, is equipped with a robust treatment planning system installed by Messrs General Electric; a brachytherapy machine to treat cervical and prostate cancer, including other cancer-related ailments in hidden but approachable sites. In addition, the chemotherapy suite can accommodate up to 15 patients at any time.
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