Foundation set to bridge pediatric radiation oncology access in Africa

Foundation set to bridge pediatric radiation oncology access in Africa

First Published: Business Day

Written By: Seyi John Salau

The Dorcas Cancer Foundation (TDCF) has said that it is working to bridge access to pediatric radiation oncology services and specialists in Nigeria, as it disclosed that such services are significantly deficient in Africa.

The Foundation, which is set to hold a virtual bootcamp to train oncology workforce in Nigeria and other Sub Saharan Africa, decried the lack of dedicated pediatric radiation oncology treatment center and fellowship training program in Nigeria.

According to the organisers, the virtual bootcamp, which will hold between Thursday, July 29 and Friday, July 30, aims to bridge the pediatric radiation oncology gap by providing access to continuing practice and skills update delivered by renowned pediatric radiation oncologists across the globe.

“In Nigeria, we have limited access to Pediatric Radiation Oncology, training or expertise – it is an underserved population and an issue that must be addressed if pediatric cancer survival is truly going to improve in the country,” said Adedayo Joseph, Founder, The Dorcas Cancer Foundation.

According to Joseph, radiation therapy is a necessary and highly specialised treatment modality in childhood cancers. “Radiation therapy contributes to 40 percent of all cancer cures world-wide; it is used for curative treatment, to improve quality of life, pain control and to treat other conditions such as bleeding, skin conditions and more,” she stated.

According to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) 2018 report, over 80 per cent of childhood cancer cases occur in Low and Middle Income countries (LMIC), while the childhood cancer associated mortality is two to three times recorded in High income countries (HIC).

Joseph, a clinical radiation Oncologist and Research Programme Director at Lagos University Teaching Hospital NSIA-LUTH Cancer Center, said as part of moves to improve the survival rates for children living with cancer in Nigeria and Africa, the foundation is organising a Pediatric Radiation Oncology Virtual Bootcamp (#PedROC).

Nwamaka Lasebikan, the vice president association of Radiation and Clinical Oncologist of Nigeria, said access to radiotherapy services in Nigeria has been a huge challenge, noting that only four centres are currently offering the services across the 36 states of the country, with only two of the centers equipped with modern imaging treatment planning machines and software.

Speaking on the need for pediatric radiation oncology fellowship training programme in Nigeria, Lasebikan, said it will provide for continuous meaningful manpower development and make adequate long term advances in the care for pediatric oncology patients.

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