Chief Medical Director, Benue State University Teaching Hospital, Makurdi, Prof. Abraham Malu has called on the World Gastroenterology Organisation, WGO, to help establish a gastroenterology centre in Nigeria to address the current challenges faced by internal medicine specialists.
Making the call at the Africa-Middle East Association of Gastroenterology, AMAGE, held in Tinapa, Calabar, recently, Malu said the establishment of a WGO-assisted centre in Nigeria would help nurture core training centres for primary and advanced GI training in different parts of the country. According to him, there are only few trainers in different fields of gastroenterology and “very few with therapeutic endoscopy experience (such as) banding, injection of bleeding lesions, etc”
He regretted that the nation was faced with the dearth of equipment which are suboptimal, break down frequently and with no competent maintenance personnel which he said, often results in interrupted services thus extending training periods.
His words, “Nigeria with its population and number of doctors needing training in gastroenterology definitely needs a training center. Opportunities for training the trainers will help develop these centers, improve networking with other centers and WGO affiliates, help source for equipment—videos, animated models, etc. and provide trainers even on visiting basis,
“This will also help establish and maintain standards through the colleges, expand the scope of training of fellows before they graduate (not just endoscopy, but research, etc), establish an apex institution which can complement the efforts of the different training centers and encourage training institutions to have their residents/fellows rotate through such a center.”
The AMAGE congress also featured several presentations from specialists on different digestive disorders said to be on the increase as a result lifestyle changes in Africa.
Speaking, Dr. Mary Afihene, a Physician Gstroenterologist at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital in Kumasi Ghana disclosed that intestinal diseases such as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, GERD is on the increase in most parts of Africa as a result of lifestyle changes among the people.
“We are not eating right.” he added that Africans had jettisoned their normal diets rich in fruits and vegetables for the western fatty and oily diets which predispose them to obesity. For instance, she cited a study which reveals a prevalence of GERD in 26.34 percent population of students in a Nigerian Medical college.
Another presentation by a team of researchers at the Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital revealed the incidence of diverticular disease of the colon, earlier reported to be rare among Africans, in many parts of the country.
According to the researchers, diverticular disease, resulting from the pressure within the colon (large intestine) which forms a bulge in the colonic walls as the individual person ages, occurs due to low intake of dietary fibre and is now being reported in many parts of Nigeria.
On his part, Minister of Health, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu commended AMAGE for choosing Nigeria as host of the 5th congress, the first in Africa.
Represented by the Chief Medical Director University of Calabar, Dr. Thomas Agan, the minister said the congress was being held at a time most African countries were recording increasing incidence of digestive disorders following changing lifestyles among the people.
Chukwu announced that that Nigeria would collaborate with medical bodies around the world to address the trend. Specifically, the minister said Nigeria would be advocating the need for attitudinal change to reduce the increasing incidence of digestive disorders in the country.
Also, Prof Chukwu said the country would be working with internal medicine physicians, especially the Society of Gastroenterology & Hepatitis in Nigeria, SOGHIN, in addition to human capital development, through local and international. The country, he said, would also embark on infrastructural development as well as investing in proper and functional equipment to tackle the diseases.