Over the last four years, Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center has conducted workshops in Nigeria on an ongoing basis to share our knowledge, resources and skills with patients and doctors in less privileged countries.
The first of these workshops was conducted in 2009 in Enugu at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital. Our most recent workshop took place in March of 2013 at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Lagos.
Nigeria’s current population is over 140 million people. The growing population has mounting demands for health and medical treatment in their nation.
In big African cities, there are teaching hospitals like those I mentioned above. But as you go further and further out to the smaller towns and villages, resources are drastically limited. It is one of the goals of Roswell Park to expand the training and technology available to Nigerians in less populous areas.
I am originally from Nigeria and my time in the United States, including working for Roswell Park, has provided me with many gifts. To be able to return to Nigeria, and to be able to educate, teach proficiency, provide research and medical data to these institutions is a truly rewarding experience.
The changes my colleagues and I are trying to affect are not only important, but are also tangible. Our workshops help Africans to understand cancer in a broader spectrum: how to detect it, how to control it and how to prevent it. We can see our lessons being implemented and honed, and have watched each hospital and its doctors/surgeons continue to improve.
In the coming years, we want to establish lasting relationships with the Nigerian universities, hospitals and people. It is my hope that providing the universities with funding and training will result in a wider dissemination of cancer awareness and treatment options.
We would eventually like to build a small cancer center in Nigeria modeled after Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center. Leaders trained at this center will then teach others across the continent: encouraging the duplication and spread of like-centers across West Africa, in particular.
At the program’s inception, those hospitals and I received seed funding from the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) and additional support from local institutions, especially Roswell Park. However, this type of international outreach effort demands time, resources and money. There is much that needs to be done in the coming years to grow this program, and we are in the process of applying for funding from the National Cancer Institute to extend our reach.
The opportunity to provide my native country with better care and resources is exciting to me and I know that I am not alone at Roswell Park in sharing this drive and passion.