LUTH emerges best cancer centre in Nigeria

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The Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH, last weekend emerged the Most Outstanding Oncology Centre in the country at the 10th Nigeria Healthcare Excellence Awards, NHEA, held in Lagos.

The 2024 NHEA attracted 26,000 nominations across all categories, where three health journalists also emerged as winners of the Prevent Epidemics Journalism Award, a special award category of the   Excellence Awards.

The NHEA recognizes individuals and organizations that have made exceptional contributions to the Nigerian healthcare sector over the past year. The awards also highlight the healthcare sector’s growth, the role of technology, and the ability of individuals and organizations to set new standards. 

More than 30 awards and recognitions were presented at the award ceremony where LUTH was recognised for its pioneering role in modern cancer care and treatment in the past five years.

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The Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Prof Wasiu Adeyemo said the award is a recognition of the efforts to make the LUTH Cancer Centre the best and most impactful cancer care facility in West Africa.

He also disclosed plans to add nuclear medicine to the facility next year in fulfilment of the vision of   the Federal Government to make a success of its public-private partnership initiative.

Nuclear medicine is a specialised area of cancer treatment that uses multi-disciplinary medical imaging for diagnosis and treatments. When the plan comes to fruition, the NSIA-LUTH Cancer Centre will be equipped to track the progress of treatments in patients with tools such as PET scan, SPECT scan, cyclotron, and radio-pharmacy.

“Cancer management starts with diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring. You cannot have comprehensive care without these processes. We need to complement the success that we have here with nuclear medicine which will be ready in the next 14 months,” said Adeyemo.

The centre was commissioned in 2019 as the largest management facility by equipment, skillsets, and faculty, riding on a PPP model that has sustained efficiency.

The centre has treated over 10,064 patients, involving 8,528 radiotherapies, 6,733 chemotherapies, and 215 high-dose rate 3D brachytherapy treatments over the past five years, restoring confidence in an industry that was previously incapacitated to save thousands of Nigerians from cancer scare.

In a positive development, Adeyemo noted that the awareness of cancer signs and early presentations has improved significantly. It came under the oncology initiative aimed to improve strategic health investments and upgrade existing facilities.

The initiative tasked the NSIA to deploy linear accelerators, iridium brachytherapy machines, computed tomography (CI) simulators, positron emission tomography (PET) scanners and cyclotrons in the selected hospitals.

“Before we embarked on this journey of investing in cancer care, there was only one epileptic linear accelerator in the country. And it has only been believed that Nigerians could not run cancer centres because of the technicality. But we have proven it is incorrect with dedication to duty,” Adewole said.

“We started this centre in 2019 with seven consultant oncologists and none of them has left. We have added two. There is hope and we are convinced that access to care will change for Nigerians.

Adeyemo praised efforts of the Tinubu Administration to enhance oncology care with the upgrading of six cancer centres at designated teaching hospitals across the country under an arrangement with the NSIA.

The Chairperson of the Advisory Board of NHEA, Anthony Omolola, said the selection process included comprehensive evaluations by NHEA’s verification team and over 52,000 online votes were received.

Mr Omolola said the votes “underscored the competitive spirit and high standards” that define the NHEA, adding that the highlights for the 2024 edition include the introduction of new award categories reflecting “our dynamic and evolving approach.”

“This year’s nominations feature new categories demonstrating our commitment to recognising emerging trends and achievements in the health sector,” he said.

“Another highlight is the emphasis on public health, neuroscience, and drug manufacturing, the lifetime achievement and special recognition awards, highlight the exemplary and external world of respected Nigerians in the healthcare ecosystem.”

The Managing Director of Nigeria Health Watch, Vivianne Ihekweazu, said the PEJA was instituted to ensure that the public is well informed about the need for funding for epidemic preparedness.

“As you all know, we need to strengthen our health security and without a sustained mandate we can’t do this and that is the genesis of the award,” Mrs Ihekweazu said.

“The award acknowledges journalists who have raised awareness among the public and policymakers about the importance of funding epidemic preparedness and response, inspiring them to continue their vital role in safeguarding the country’s health security.”

The Nigerian Healthcare Excellence Award is an annual event that honours outstanding individuals and organisations for their significant contributions to the advancement of the Nigerian health sector.

“The awards highlight the rapid growth of the healthcare sector, the transformative role of technology, and the ability of organizations and individuals to set new performance standards in Nigeria and beyond,” said the NHEA Project Director, Wale Alabi.

“The theme of this year’s event aligned with the country’s healthcare transformation agenda, spotlighting and recognising stakeholders, facilities, and organisations that have significantly contributed to the healthcare sector.

“With a decade of impactful existence, NHEA continues to elevate the standards of healthcare services.”

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