No fewer than 34 Oncologist pharmacists from Abuja are expected to pass through a five-day training programme on cancer treatment and care from Dec. 6 to Dec. 10 in Lagos.

Speaking at a news conference  organised by Project PINKBLUE, an NGO, in Abuja on Tuesday, Mrs Ramatu-Masud Alabelewe, President, Oncology Pharmacy Practitioners Association of Nigeria, said that the training was put together to increase the knowledge of the medical personnel.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training will be facilitated by a United State agency, called ”Fulbright Specialist training on up-grade of oncology under the U.S.- Nigeria Science and Technology Exchange Programme”.

NAN reports that the training is also designed  to encourage the Federal Government to prioritise quality cancer care through re-training and capacity building for oncology professionals.

She said that high cost of cancer therapy, limited access to fund and inadequate training for health workers were some of the biggest challenges in Nigeria, hence the need to train the personnel.

According to her, the idea of the training came up after reviewing the spread of cancer cases, how to stop infection, and basically to improve the general well-being of cancer patients in Nigeria.

“Since 2013, Project PINKBLUE has been active in cancer issue in Nigeria, we have done a lot of project, create awareness, conduct screening, response to patient and conduct of research, we have work with a lot of stakeholders.

“Since 2013 Project PINKBLUE initiated the upgrade of the oncology programme in response and to find a way of improving the capacity of the oncology workforce in different areas in partnership with stakeholders and ministry of health.

“Also in 2018, we focus on medical training of oncology in Nigeria and we trained 44 oncology along with stakeholders with the partnership of the Federal Ministry of Health.

“We are convince that this upcoming training will bring about access to quality care on cancer,” she said.

Mrs Cindy Bryant, one of the facilitator/ trainer, University of Colorado, USA stated that most cancer patients in Nigeria lacked regular treatment, adding that, there are critical point of patient that needs the service of oncology.

According to her, there are very critical points in which without an oncologist pharmacist, cancer patient cannot get the right treatment.

Bryant who identified part of Nigeria’s challenges for effective treatment of cancer as inadequate equipment, said there were so many resources missing in Nigeria including equipment for the treatment of cancer.

Mr Donald Harvey, also a trainer from Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta Georgia, said the trainers were in Nigeria to give a support hand to enable the oncologist pharmacists deliver very well on cancer patients.

Harvey said they would also train, educate and create a relationship atmosphere and prepare the pharmacists for decades to come for the care of cancer in Nigeria.

“Cancer issue takes investment, it takes infrastructure, US government has been critical for that to happen, I believe in the inspiration, the desire in Nigeria at present,” Harvey said.

Miss Gloria Okwu, a breast cancer survivor, who is also the Project PINKBLUE Coordinator, said that government was not doing enough on cancer issue in the country.

She said that if government was doing enough about cancer, there would be no need to have NGO,  as NGOs were out to complement government’s efforts in the areas of policies and programmes.

She, however, commended the government for releasing the cancer health fund for 2020 and 2021 saying, it was a step in the right direction, but that no cancer patient had gotten access to the money.

Okwu called on individuals concerned to ensure that the funds get to cancer patients who need them.

According to her, if cancer is well managed, it may not lead to death, while urging those who have cancer to seek medical attention early. (NAN)

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