December 14, 2021

US, NGO combat cancer, train 34 Nigerian oncology pharmacists

US, NGO combat cancer, train 34 Nigerian oncology pharmacists

By Deborah Ariyo

Irked by the state of cancer treatment in Nigeria, Project Pink Blue has trained 34 Nigerian oncology pharmacists as part of interventions to help reduce the high incidence of cancer, tackle late detection and improve general outlook of cancer in Nigeria.

Speaking during the opening ceremony of the training in Lagos, the Executive Director, Project Pink blue, Mr. Runcie Chidebe who noted that cancer accounts for the 2nd most common cause of mortality after cardiovascular disease worldwide said data from the World Health Organisation in 2020 showed that Nigeria contributed to the world cancer burden with 124, 815 new cases and 78, 899 deaths.

He traced the unacceptable figures in Nigeria on the depreciating state of Nigeria health facilities, late presentation, limited access to quality care, unequal and/or outright poor distribution of oncologists, high cost of cancer therapies, limited access to funds for treatment and limited training for oncology professionals.

He regretted that these were the  biggest reasons the country still have poor cancer outcomes, hence,  Project Pink Blue’s Interventions was aimed at upgrading oncology programme through training.

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Chidebe said the training tagged: ‘Upgrade Oncology’, was to build the capacity of pharmacists in the management, care and cure of cancer patients.

“Upgrade Oncology is a capacity development programme that is focused on improving cancer treatment and care through the provision of medical oncology training and the domestication of the treatment guidelines for better cancer care in Nigeria.

The Executive Director said the training was important because pharmacy was an important element in the treatment of cancer.

Most of cancers are actually treated with drugs, therapies and other forms of known medication.

 “There is a need to provide training for these people who are providing this chemotherapy to patients and who are also giving these medications. We brought pharmacists from all over the six regions of the country,” he stated.

Speaking, Prof. Donald Harvey from the Department of Haematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta Georgia, U.S., noted that team work among medical practitioners was necessary in the management of cancer patients.

 “We cannot have any success unless we are a team, and that team has to be integrated.   It has to be under the direction of a physician taking care of the patient.

 “We are here to add to education on how drugs are used safely by nurses, physicians and patients.”

Also speaking, Prof. Cindy O’ Bryant, of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Colorado, also in the U.S., noted that the training would empower Nigerian pharmacists more to give hope to cancer patients.

Also speaking, a Professor of Pharmacy at the University of Lagos, Cecilia Igwilo, stressed the need to create more awareness on cancer in the country.

According to her, it was not easy to watch one’s family member die slowly from cancer.

 “I believe that there must be more awareness about cancer even in paediatric patients, even among elderly people, even among middle aged people.”

On her part, Chief Operating Officer, Airpeace, Limited represented by Mrs Oluwatoyin Olajide commended Project Pink Blue, adding that, the organisation will always invest in and partner for tangibly impactful programmes such as the oncology training programme.

Vanguard News Nigeria