US Doctors Bring Better Way of Treating Cancer to Nigeria

Written by Oluseyi Adefowora

RAD-AID Nigeria, a non-profit organization working to improve radiology healthcare is working closely with a team of medical experts from multiple institutions in the United States to train local medical professionals on how to provide minimally invasive Interventional Radiology services in Nigeria.

The team, in partnership with the University of Ibadan, established a training program for residents at University College Hospital in Ibadan to teach important techniques in interventional radiology.

The team is led by Dr. Hammed Ninalowo, a US-trained Vascular and Interventional Radiologist, who recently moved back to Lagos to open a new practice at Euracare Multi-specialist Hospital.

Group’s plan was to create sustainability and spread the specialty all over Nigeria.

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“The skill is much needed in every part of the country. So that patients that are not in Lagos or patients that could not reach people like me could benefit from the care,” he said.

Ninalowo further said the initiative has the potential to train hundreds of doctors and change millions of people’s lives in West Africa.

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“We just ran a three-day symposium at the University of Ibadan and we had radiologists and doctors who came from all parts of Nigeria to learn the field of Interventional Radiology.”

“With the symposium, we also did life cases on patients that need interventional radiology care and with this, we trained doctors to do the simple procedures of interventional radiology and also show them the possibility of what the future is with interventional radiology in Nigeria as a whole.”

“We had a lot of enthusiasm from the doctors that came to learn from us and the folks that came from the US are anxious to come back because of that and just the fact that we are able to show them to do things that are essentially impossible right now in Nigeria with basics techniques,” he added.

Speaking extensively about Interventional Radiology, Ninalowo said IR offers patients reduced risks versus open surgery, shorter hospital stays, greater comfort and quicker return to daily activities.

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According to him, Interventional radiology treatments can be the first-line care option for a wide variety of conditions like blocked fallopian tubes, malignant tumors in lung and liver cancer, fibroids and non-healing ulcers on diabetic patients.

He also noted that Interventional Radiology treatments do not involve open surgery, allowing for small or no incisions, less scarring, reduced blood loss and reduced apprehension.

“Interventional Radiology is a subspecialty of radiology where we use the image-guided techniques to basically perform image-guided surgery and we do everything minimally invasively.”

“One of the examples I would like to talk about is the example of the uterus fibroids. With fibroids, the only patient’s option right now is surgery of removing the uterus completely. With the surgery, patient staying in the hospital for an average of three to four days then they have downtime from work for six to eight weeks.”

“We offer a procedure which involves no cutting on the patient, we basically go into the uterus with a pin size hole in the body and we block the blood flow to the fibroids, what this does is that once you block the blood flow to the fibroids, the fibroids essentially die by themselves. Nearly all our patients are able to go home within 12 to 23 hours and all of them are able to go back to work within 10 days.”

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Speaking on the affordability of the treatment, Ninalowo said the procedure is a little more expensive than traditional surgery but one shouldn’t look at the cost of the procedures but the entire picture, adding that the team is working with American consultants and manufacturers that will give them prices of materials that are affordable for African patients.

However, Ninalowo said the Interventional Radiology could be a complex specialty to teach and the team will focus on simple procedures that will make significant impacts on patients.

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