…Poor Research Possible Cause Of Poor Cancer Mgmt, Alarming Death Rate
…Nigeria Bears Highest Cancer Burden In Africa
By Progress Godfrey, Abuja
Project PINK BLUE with support from ACT Foundation in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Health is implementing the Upgrade Oncology Programme; a Nigeria-US Science & Technology Exchange Programme in Nigeria.
This was made known by the Executive Director Project of PINK BLUE Runcie Chidebe in Abuja on Thursday in a press briefing.
Chidebe who was represented by the Programme Coordinator Gloria Okwu said the programme seeks to strengthen the capacity of the Nigerian oncology workforce through training in diverse oncology areas. According to him, the programme has been ongoing since 2018, as the organisation’s support to the Federal Government’s National Cancer Control Plan (2018-2022) and involves clinical oncologists, oncology pharmacists, nurses, pathologists, and other caregivers along the cancer care spectrum.
In 2018, Project PINK BLUE brought two U.S.-based Fulbright specialists to train 44 clinical oncologists from different facilities across Nigeria in medical oncology with a focus on leukaemia, breast, prostate and childhood cancers. In 2021, 36 oncology Pharmacists were drawn from 24 facilities across Nigeria and were trained by two U.S. Fulbright Specialists in chemotherapy reconstitution, handling, and patient counselling.
This year, 50 pathologists will be trained by U.S. Fulbright Specialists to support accuracy in cancer diagnosis, treatment, and management. To achieve the overall objective of Upgrade Oncology, Project PINK BLUE conducts an annual training alongside the major programme for health workers drawn from primary, secondary, and tertiary institutions on different aspects of cancer management. This year, we are focusing on cancer research.
Why Cancer Research Training?
“Of the 23,679 cancer research papers published in different peer-reviewed journals by African scientists and academic over a 12-year period, only 5,281 were from sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and Nigeria’s contribution was only 997, that is, 19% of the SSA total and 4% of entire Africa (Mutebi, et al., 2022). Clearly, Nigeria contributed only 19% of the entire cancer research in sub-Saharan Africa and only 4% of the cancer research in Africa. For a country with over 200 million people with 120,000 cancer incidences and 72,000 cancer deaths, which is the highest cancer burden in the whole of Africa; Nigeria’s contribution to cancer research is poor and does not reflect any progress. Poor cancer research in Nigeria could be responsible for poor cancer management including the rising cancer deaths. Nigeria can make progress in cancer control if we invest in cancer research,” said Runcie Chidebe, Executive Director of Project PINK BLUE.
The Programme Coordinator & Breast Cancer Survivor Gloria Okwu said that “So many questions on cancer have remained unanswered in cancer care in Nigeria. The problems of drugs toxicity, why is cancer affecting more young adults in Nigeria, does cancer has a cure, poor access to cancer medicines, limited cancer specialists, frequent break-down of cancer machines like radiotherapy, challenges of importing bone scan reagents, limited psychological support, lack of cancer funding and many others. The fact these questions have remained unanswered has further exacerbated the negative outcomes for cancer patients in the.”
“As a patient-oriented organization, Project PINK BLUE understands that cancer research is crucial to improve the prevention, detection, diagnosis, and treatment of all forms of cancer, and ensures that cancer survivors live longer with better quality of life. Research also helps identify the causes of cancer, highlights improved methods of diagnosis and treatment, and effectively utilizes the possibilities of international best practices. Based on this data and other evidence, Project PINK BLUE and ACT Foundation brought you all together for this one-day tailored training focused on updating the skills and building the capacity of oncology practitioners and health in the conduct of research and paper publication in peer-reviewed journals” said Okwu.
She continued: “We hope to stimulate learning and encourage research through capacity building among oncology professionals. It is our belief that oncology research by Nigerians, for Nigerians will provide homegrown results for better treatment outcomes. The training covered the following topics: types of research, research in oncology, how to publish your research in journals, understanding academic writing, implementing research and the relevance of research in the oncology space.”
This training will not only serve to reiterate the importance of conducting and publishing research work but to encourage the government and other relevant agencies to implement these research findings. Like in the past, it is notable for its synergism, instructive presentations, top-notch delivery of topics by seasoned researchers and networking among participants drawn from different echelons of health practice.
From inception the programme has been funded by ACT Foundation and this year is no different. Project PINK BLUE therefore expressed gratitude to the ACT Foundation for the consistent support and in cancer care in Nigeria.
Project PINK BLUE therefore encouraged other Nigerian-based organisations to emulate such patriotism and unquestionable zest in tackling its numerous social challenges.
Beyond that, the ACT foundation recognizes and rewards excellence; Project PINK BLUE was the merit award winner earlier in the year for her enviable strides in cancer care. “We also appreciate other partners such as the U.S. Mission of State, Roche Products, Bio Ventures for Global Health, Nigeria Medical Association, Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners Association in Nigeria (OPPAN), U.S. Department of State Fulbright Specialist Programme, Federal Ministry of Health, Hospital Management Board, Nigerian Union of Allied Health professionals, National Hospital Abuja and College of Nigerian Pathologists amongst others”.