NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre steps up manpower training

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The multi-billion NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre has embarked on some proactive measures to guarantee the sustainability of the facility. This includes a deliberate plan for continuous training of competent and sufficient personnel to manage the centre, in fulfillment of its mandate as a flagship cancer treatment facility not only in Nigeria, but West Africa

The equipment suppliers, Messrs Varian of Palo Alto, are providing capacity by building a training centre at the hospital in support of its commitment to human capacity development in radiotherapy across the West African sub-region. This is premised on a 10-year service maintenance contract that was built into the purchase agreement to enable the centre give at least a full decade of uninterrupted service.

A team of experts from training colleges in the United States, which recently visited LUTH, expressed satisfaction with the state-of-the-art facility, saying it has rekindled hope for manpower training in oncology in the sub-region. Also, the Director of the centre, Mr Frank Sullivan, expressed confidence in its capacity to meet emergent demands.

“The nurses in the Chemo-therapy Department are highly trained oncology nursing practitioners who are on the label of general practitioners in South Africa. They have exceeded first graduate degrees in oncology and dermatology and they know how to run the Chemo-therapy Department,” he said.

Realising the huge demand on investing on its staff to achieve its objectives, the centre, already attending to patients from all parts of the country, said it is leaving no stone unturned in vital areas of handling the sophisticated facilities, with great emphasis on maintenance. Recently, the centre opened its doors to a group of clinical specialists from the United States led by Prof. Adedayo Onitilo, an oncologist at the Marshfield Clinic at Weston. It was a non-compensatory volunteer mission basically on a “show and tell” interaction to offer technical support, collaboration and advice to the centre.

During the visit, Prof. Onitilo said the team was excited on seeing the cancer facility embark on the clinical application of newly-procured radiation and medical oncology equipment.

“Based on the request from LUTH and NSIA, our goal is to collaborate and assess readiness of LUTH to provide modern oncologic care to patients, assess the equipment, practitioners and environment in terms of care delivery and safety.  The team of clinical specialists has worked together for about a decade. Our engagement will be a non-compensatory volunteer mission, basically a ‘show and tell’ interaction with the LUTH team offering technical support and advice.

“On this trip, we have a comprehensive cancer care team consisting of medical oncologist, radiation oncologist, nurse practitioner/navigator, dosimetrist, physicist and therapist.  But we are glad to meet individuals that are highly qualified in their own right in the field of medical and radiation oncology. We   have also received support from the equipment vendors, therefore, our role and responsibility will be that of an independent outside observer with vast experience in day-to-day cancer care,” he said.

The delegation had six other specialists and cancer care specialists. Alongside Onitilo, a medical oncology researcher in palliative medicine, others were Patricia K. Lillis, hematology and oncology; Mr. Xuan Hu, a physicist specialised in radiation therapy; Jessica M. Engel, oncology and hematology nurse practitioner; Linda K. Brock (CMD), Locum Dosimetrist, and Dana R.T. Peterson, a radiation therapist.

While in Nigeria, the team brainstormed and developed a draft based on their assessment, direct interaction with patients and classroom-style brainstorming sessions with local personnel. The draft, designed over a 19-day period, targets developing a work model curriculum for the training of LUTH members of staff for improved staff strength and effective operations. The visit featured an orientation programme with the staff members.  The team also toured the centre on assessment of the available equipment; exchanging ideas on safety and quality standards, pumps, ports, clinic set-up, intake, consultation, treatment planning, tumour board, multidisciplinary team, chemo database, orders, documentation, screening and outreach.

Checks were also carried out to examine the state of various departments, responsibilities of team members as well as carrying out reviews of treatments, protocols and policies of the centre. The team had discussions on tumours seen in local region, treatment philosophy, integration with medical oncology, follow-up plans, and charting a database for the centre. The experts also reviewed cases handled by the centre and embarked on educating the members of the staff on patients care and clinical related topics.

To promote sustainability, the delegation proposed developing a plan to monitor the prospects and challenges of the centre to allow the facility accomplish the task which has been cut out for it in Nigeria and the whole of West Africa. The delegation also counselled on continuous training for the entire local staff through conferences and engagement of international profes-sionals.

Responding, the LUTH Chief Medical Director, Prof. Chris Bode, commended the selfless service rendered by Prof. Onitilo and his team. He promised to ensure that the training centre sited within the hospital premises is promptly completed and put to good use.

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