Group Trains 34 Oncology Pharmacists

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Cross section of experts at the opening session of the training in Lagos.

Project Pink Blue, one of the leading cancer nonprofit organisations, on Monday, commenced the training of 34 oncology pharmacists in Lagos.

The training, tagged ‘Upgrade Oncology,’ is to build the capacity of pharmacists in the management, care and cure of cancer patients in the country.

Upgrade Oncology is a capacity development programme that is focused on improving cancer treatment and care through the provision of medical oncology training and the domestication of the treatment guidelines for better cancer care in Nigeria.

The convener and some of the trainers spoke with newsmen on the sidelines of the training and benefits of the training.

Mr Runcie Chidebe, executive director, Project Pink Blue expressed delight at the commencement of the training in Lagos.

He said that the training was important  because pharmacy is such an important element in the treatment of cancer patients.

“Most of the cancers are actually treated with drugs, with therapies and other forms of known medications.

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“And there is a need to provide training to these people who are providing this chemotherapy to patients and who are also given these medications, because people cannot give what they don’t have.

“And it’s so important that we are doing this not just in terms of one region,  like maybe in the north or only in the south, but we brought pharmacists from all over the six regions of the country,” Chidebe said.

The executive director said after the training, the oncology pharmacists  could go back to their different teaching hospitals and different hospitals to provide the best and quality care to cancer patients.

“Pharmacists are so important. COVID-19 has shown us that there is a need for all to start thinking about drug development, about clinical trial about field testing, Chidebe said.

He noted that over 100,000 Nigerians are diagnosed of cancer every single year and over 72,000 Nigerians actually die of this disease every year.

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Also speaking, Prof. Donald Harvey,  Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta Georgia, said that team work among medical practitioners was necessary in the management of cancer.

“I think we cannot have any success unless we are a team. And that team has to be integrated. It has to be under the direction of a physician taking care of the patient.

“And everyone has to have their own expertise,” Harvey said.

He said that the purpose of the training was not to take over the role of doctors.

“We are here to add to their roles to add to education on how  drugs are used safely by nurses, physicians and patients.

“The physicians alone cannot do it by themselves. They need help, they need us they need others to help deliver that care, “Harvey said.

Also Prof Cindy O’ Bryant, of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Colorado, said that the training would afford pharmacists the resources to give hope to cancer patients in their daily practice.

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“We’re really strengthening that network of hope, offering patients with cancer a place to go, a place to receive treatment and a place to be cured, ” O’ Bryant said.

Prof Cecilia Igwilo (OON), first female Professor of Pharmacy and distinguished professor at the University of Lagos, called for more awareness about cancer in the country,

She said that it was not easy to watch one’s family member die slowly from cancer.

“I believe that there must be awareness about cancer, even in paediatric patients, even in elderly people, even in middle aged people.

“There should be awareness everywhere in schools, what you eat, those that you know, even antismoking,” Igwilo said.

The training is scheduled to last for six days.

Some of the partners in the training are act foundation, Access bank, United States Embassy, Roche, Air Peace among others.

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