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Experts urge better deal for paediatric radiation oncology

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PHOTO CREDIT: TANIT MEDICAL ENGINEERING

Medical experts have decried dearth of paediatric radiation oncology treatment centres and fellowship programmes in Nigeria.

During a two-day virtual bootcamp on the menace, organised by The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF), in collaboration with the Association of Radiation and Clinical Oncologist of Nigeria (ARCON), yesterday, in Lagos, the foundation’s founder, Dr. Adedayo Joseph, noted that while radiation therapy was a necessary treatment for childhood cancers, access to paediatric radiation oncology services and specialists was lacking.

Joseph said there was need to improve the survival rates for children living with cancers in Nigeria and Africa.

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“In Nigeria, we have limited access to paediatric radiation oncology, training or expertise – it is an underserved population and an issue that must be addressed if paediatric cancer survival is truly going to improve in the country.

“Radiation therapy contributes to 40 per cent of all cancer cures worldwide. It is used for curative treatment to improve quality of life, for pain control and to treat other conditions such as bleeding, skin conditions and more,” she explained

Joseph said everyone must work to increase survival rates of children living with cancer to at least 60 per cent by 2030, with a considerable interest in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) like Nigeria where the odds are higher.

ARCON President, Dr. Nwamaka Lasebikan, said accessing radiotherapy services in Nigeria had been a huge challenge, noting that only four centres were currently offering the services nationwide, with only two equipped with modern imaging treatment planning machines and software.

Also speaking, Paediatric Hemato-Oncologist, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Dr. Seye Akinsete, lamented lack of manpower, stating that Nigeria has only 42 paediatric oncologists as at 2019, with few or no specialised trained nurses, pharmacists, nutritionists and psychologists.

In his remarks, Medical Director, Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Dr. Manoo Bhakta, said to achieve WHO’s goal of 60 per cent survival for all children with cancer care by 2030, the capacity of nations must be boosted to deliver best practices in childhood cancer care.

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