By Morenike Taire
Describing cancer as treatable disease, the Association of Radiographers of Nigeria (ARN) called on all citizens to embrace the habit of diagnosing any unclear symptom to ascertain how treatment can be carried.
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They also advised Nigerians to eat right and refrain from foods that can cause cancer. These and other issues were tabled at the 51st Annual conference and Scientific Workshop of the Association of Radiographers of Nigeria tagged ‘Eko 2019: Emergency”.
In a weeklong programme themed: Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine: Prospects and Challenges in Nigeria” and held from November 19 to 23 in Lagos, the body engaged its members all over the country in a scientific workshop that includes paper presentations, visits, games and scientific exhibitions. The programme was also to elect new executive members and an investiture of a new patron in the person of Chief Olu Okeowo who took over from the former patron, Rtd General Ike Oma Sanda Nwachukwu.
In his early speech, the former patron, General Ike Nwachukwu represented by Mr. Chioma Abara called on the federal government of Nigeria to address the chronic neglect of Radiotherapy and Nuclear Medicine practice in Nigeria. He stressed that the provision of radiotherapy and nuclear medicine services in Nigeria is short of expectation with only ten center offering service in the entire federal, of which two is privately owned. He also hinted on the short of human capacity to carry the enormous task of radiotherapy services in the country.
Gen Nwachukwu however, charged the association to formulate implementable programmes for government adoption which he said will save live and prevent Nigerians from going to medical tour abroad.
Chief Olu Okeowo who was installed as the new patron of the association welcomed the honour as a challenge to create more awareness on the menace of cancer disease among the unsuspecting public.
“Today we celebrate the era of clinical imaging,” says chief Okeowo. As he gave a narrative of someone who went to a herbalist to get his ailment healed and in the process dies, he advised Nigerians to seek proper diagnosis of any ailment before embarking on treatments. He also faulted another challenge caused by religious belief that faith can heal. “It is disheartening when people are forced to belief that faith in God alone heals sickness and not take medicine for cure,” he said.
He bemoans at the rate people who are not educated deceive patients with a name tag, “alternative medicine” citing the case of ebola crises that took everybody by surprise. “Every breath of the society including the church, the alternative medicine practitioner and all sundry adhered to medical instructions of hand washing because no one wants to die.” Chief Okeowo commented.
He later charged the radiographers to go out and spread the truth that regular medical checkup is important and stop being deceived by faith crusaders. According to him, nothing can equate clinical medicine that shows exactly where the ailment lies.
Chief Olu Okeowo while speaking to vanguard said; “Well you know cancer was not as prevalent during the time of our parents as it is now. I have wondered why it is so prevalent right now and part of what we do is that we try to commission professionals to do research and find out whether it is from the nutrition we take as food to know if the foods we eat now are organic or not. To curtail the prevalence we must submit ourselves to regular checkups, diagnose to see if anything is wrong and allow doctors to take it up from there.”
Mrs Elizebeth Balogun, President, Association of Radiographers of Nigeria in her words said, “We are going to take this further from here. We are going to do a lot of advocacy, a lot of community health, giving back to our society as a group of people as health professionals and helping Nigeria go further in eradicating the menace and burden of cancer in our society.
“As radiographers, we are involved in the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. We do what we call World Radiographers’ Day across the globe and in Nigeria we celebrate it in such a way to make people realise the importance of what we do. There’s a general saying that once your ailment is known, it is half solved. So we let them know how important it is for their diagnosis to be made and solutions to their problems will begin from there.
Take away: that the therapy radiographer is also important. Although they are few in the country but we need them, train, employ and engage them for the good of all citizens of Nigeria.
The programme’s Local Organizing Committee chairperson, Mrs Mojisola Animashaun spoke to vanguard.
“The programme is about bringing out innovative things that are new in our profession as well as opportunities for Radiographers all over Nigeria, Africa and beyond to come together and discuss about our profession. The highlights of the weeklong event hinged on packaged abstracts and programmes that every member of the association whether you are a diagnosis radiographer, radiation therapist or looking for nuclear medicine, whichever aspect of radiography you are, you have to take from the research papers something you can actually use when you get back to work.
“For the challenges pointed out here, we are working with the federal government as Association of Radiographers of Nigeria and with the policy making arm; Radiographers Association Board of Nigeria to ensure that when equipment are to be procured, or centers needed to be built, we speak out with very strong advocacy. This also include contacts with National Assembly members to ensure that we register our relevance so that when it comes to the improvement of crystal care, diagnostic equipment, they will know that Radiographers are there to lend professional support.
“In the rural areas, the association engages members to go for community work for health interventions and awareness drive. The essence of the whole package is to know that radiographers are here to stay, to give patient-centric treatments, screening and diagnostic treatments all the time,” Mrs Animasaun concludes.