The WGO (World Gastroenterology Organization) Lagos Training center hosted Colonoscopy Workshops in collaboration Visiting GI experts from USA (Dr. Peter Eweje, December 30, 2015), United Kingdom (Dr. Tony Shonde April 26, 2016) and South Africa (Prof. Reid Ally, June 1, 2016) respectively.
Facilitated by the WGO under a tripartite agreement with the Society For Gastroenterology & Hepatology in Nigeria, SOGHIN, and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, the WGO Lagos training centre, which is located at the LUTH premises, as the world’s 17th International Collaborative Centre for Digestive Diseases and Endoscopy, has just one goal – train doctors to become specialists in gastrointestinal medicine.
The WGO facilitated a equipment grant of over N60 million for take-off of the project with SOGHIN and LUTH for training and equipment that will assist in bringing up skilled doctors in gastrointestinal procedures. One of the reasons for setting up the WGO Lagos training centre, was to address the huge burden of gastrointestinal illnesses as well as the dearth of manpower in Nigeria and within the sub-Saharan African region. Putting this into perspective, guest speaker at the event and Nigerian medical expert in the Diaspora, Prof. Patrick Okolo, remarked that Nigerians are not living to their potential and are dying before their time as a result of the high burden of gatrointestinal disorders. Okolo, a highly regarded international speaker and scientific reviewer and teacher, is the Chief of Endoscopy and Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins University, Baltomore, USA. Burden of diseases In his lecture entitled “G.I. Endoscopy: Evolution and Current Role in Clinical Care”, the highly regarded medical expert said he decided to return to the country after almost three decades abroad in order to help save the lives of Nigerians.
“One of the reasons I decided to come back was to help put in place those basic things that will help alleviate the burden of diseases among Nigerians. One of the reasons I decided to come back here is because of what we call the number of potential lives lost among Nigerians is high, that is, people are not living their entire lifespan because of gastrointestinal illness. We are not detecting illness of the digestive tract, we need to detect and treat them early even though these are the things that require a lot of equipment, etc. “It is a much easier way to take care of people, and it costs less. It is very relevant to Nigeria and we can begin to build this capacity in Nigeria by training doctors to do many of the things I talked about.” Charge to new administration: In a charge to the incoming administration of President-elect Mohammadu Buhari, Okolo noted that the first thing is to understand that the life of every Nigerian matters. “We must realise that the nation can afford to invest in every Nigerian life by investing and prioritising our resources in the direction of prioritising Nigerian lives. We ought to allow public and private partnerships to help lift communities up so that we can build these areas of excellence. “I travel the world and other people in other places are able to do this, and are able to do it with resources that are not necessarily more than our own resources.
So we should be able to replicate the same in Nigeria by garnering our resources and having people work together. “I teach in many countries and have travelled to a little over three dozen countries and we can do the same in Nigeria. So the charge to the new government is to foster the political will to coalesce all our resources together so that we can look after our citizens and preserve their lives. Building quality and building systems: “The most important thing about building quality in developing countries is not the equipment but rather to build the systems first. When you build the systems, then the equipment allow things to happen.
“We must restore the system. Before I left Nigeria 25 years ago, the system was a lot stronger than it is now. So we need to bring it back to at least what used to be. When my father came back from England in the 1970s, it was a much stronger system than it is now, so we need to first restore order, the valuation of Nigerian life so that we know that life should not be wasted, so that people should not be dying 10, 20, 30 years before they are supposed to.”
How Nigeria should move on Okolo, who remarked that when a journey begins, the destination is also the journey, said such realisation is more important than the equipment. “It is after you foster this as a milleiu that the equipment will then act as a vehicle to allow us so this. We can do it. I’ve seen it done in others smaller countries so there is no reason why Nigeria as a country of over 100 million population cannot do it.” I’m not here to stay permanently because I have a global presence. It is helpful to people in Nigeria and other parts of the world. By maintaining a global presence I would be in a better position to bring resources to Nigeria and to other people to help to bring these resources to Nigeria.” Okolo who will act as Consultant to the new facility, will continue to travel to other parts of the world but, will remain focused on Nigeria. “I will cut down on journeys to other parts of the world and focus on Nigeria.
Many people are qualified to be trained in Nigeria, I just came back from India last week. India has 2,500 gasentrologists for the population of about a billion; in Nigeria we can build this capacity quickly by taking graduates from our medical schools and train them. In the next six to 10 years, we can effectively build the base of this pyramid. “Basically we have many people who are qualified that just need to be trained properly on how to do it appropriate by not cutting corners. This will help them to do what is right because Nigeria deserves good medicine and we hold it to the present and next generations of Nigerians. “I happen to work with Nigerians in Diaspora especially in American hospitals and with their exceptional performance they are well qualified and they can compete globally so there is no reason why we cannot either.” Typical Nigerian story: A typical story in Nigeria is that when somebody is bleeding from what people think is piles but the person has duodenal cancer, so this is important to enlighten people because if people pull out of disease they will live longer and be stronger.
We can’t continue to waste our citizens, there won’t be a strong economy that way.” Earlier, Director of the new Centre, Dr. Olufunmilayo Lesi, said the WGO as an international federation of over 100 gastrointestinal societies worldwide, has established 16 endoscopy-training centres globally. “It is with great pride that our Lagos centre is being inaugurated as the 17th WGO training centre worldwide and the first for Nigeria and West Africa in general. “In line with the core objective of the WGO, the vision of the Lagos Endoscopy Training Centre is to deepen and enhance the skill of digestive endoscopy in Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
Health tourism This will ensure sustainable manpower development, enhance the quality of digestive health care service rendered in Nigeria and diminish the need for health tourism for endoscopic services.” Lesi noted that there is a large need for financing and structure in the industry. “To date, we have three endoscopy towers worth N60 million on loan to the centre by Karl Storkz of Germany.” In a welcome address, President, WGO, Emeritus Professor of Surgery, Prof Jim Toouli, said training centres are at the core of WGO in the quest to improve the standard of health care in gastroenterology through education. “By the end of 2015, WGO will be associated with 23 training centres throughout the world and we would have participated in the training of over 3,000 doctors. Much of this work is done by our directors and their staff.” Tooli who spoke on teleconference from Australia, observed that in addition to support of the local hospital authorities, health departments, universities and government instrumentalities are crucial.
In his own contribution, President, SOGHIN, Prof. Musa Borodo, envisaged that through the collaboration of all parties concerned, the Centre, through the regular training opportunities, would play a pivital role in enhancing the practice of gastroenterology in Nigeria and the rest of the West African sub-region through uplifting the diagnostic and therapeutic expertise of gastroenterologists in addressing the barrage of gastrointestinal problemsin this environment that haunt the practitioner in this challenging speciality.
The Acting Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Prof. Chris Bode, said the new centre will attract trainers and trainees from within and outside Nigeria to create and establish a vibrant endoscopy centre of reputewhere many can learn the art of this advanced diagnostic and therapeutic modalities. Therapeutic modalities Bode, who assured of the LUTH management’s resolve to ensure success said LUTH will deepen the context of the Nigerian Dream of establishing and monitoring international best practices in training, service delivery and research. Also, in a comment, President, Africa Middle East Association of Gastroenterology, AMAGE, Prof Olusegu Ojo, said the inauguration of the WGO Lagos training centre, was taking place alongside two others in Africa, signifies a most welcome renewed interest of WGO in assisting the development of gastroenterology in the West African sub region. Speaking, the Chairman, LUTH Management Board, Ambassador Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu described the occasion as a landmark achievement that is the culmination of the determined efforts of all stakeholders who have worked hard to make it a reality.
“It is a reaffirmation of the pride of place this hospital has always maintained. She recalled that the first gastroenterological endoscopic procedures in West Africa were performed by the surgical gastroenterologists of LUTH led by Prof Akin Adesola. “This gesture of collaboration will ensure a conducive environment for the training of international and local surgeons, thus deepening our capacity building in gastroenterological endoscopy,” she affirmed.
Read more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2015/04/we-can-prevent-nigerians-from-dying-before-their-time-okolo/