When government fails, as is so often the case in Nigeria, the private sector steps in. There are a few examples of groups that find innovative approaches to the provision of care. One new organization that is passionate about changing the situation with cancer in Nigeria is the Lakeshore Cancer Center in Lagos. It is taking a series of steps to become the most comprehensive cancer care and treatment center in Nigeria.
Lakeshore cancer center is the dream-child of Dr. Chukwumere Nwogu, a U.S. trained Thoracic Surgical Oncologist. Nwogu began his journey at the University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN).Dr. Chukwumere E. Nwogu, graduated from University of Nigeria in 1987 and has been in practice for 29 years. He completed a residency at Harlem Hospital Center. Dr. Nwogu also specializes in Vascular Surgery. He is a Professor of Surgery and Oncology at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and at SUNY, Buffalo. He is extremely passionate about cancer care in resource limited environments with a focus on Nigeria. He has been involved in numerous cancer screening missions, awareness campaigns and professional education programs all over Nigeria.
The Lakeshore Cancer Center officially opened in January 2015 in Victoria Island, Lagos, as the country’s first cancer center. But rather than starting from scratch with no experience, the center has a major player on its team in Roswell Park, the oldest cancer center in the United States.
Lakeshore Cancer Center is in patnership with Roswell Park. Roswell Park Cancer Institute is one of the most renowned cancer research and treatment centres in the world. The partnership focuses on providing training and consultation services to the Lakeshore Cancer Center in Lagos.
Lakeshore services include cancer consultations, chemotherapy, as well as palliative care for cancer related illnesses. It also takes care of cancer patients that have travelled abroad for treatment and returns to Nigeria instead of extending their time there which is expensive. There are financial and emotional implications, many patients cannot afford to be away for too long, so when they return, they need a place to go. In the long term, Lakeshore hopes that there will be no need for them to go at all, as the center would be able to provide for all their care. A place for those dealing with the complex and difficult care and treatment of cancer to go to, here in Nigeria, and receive world class care from concerned and expert staff.
The Center has hosted a team from Roswell Park, who spent a week doing in-house training for staff as well as training nurses at LUTH and UCH Ibadan. The Center has also held a Continuous Medical Education (CME) course with LUTH and Pathcare. Ilegbune says continuous development is part and parcel of Lakeshore’s vision. Dr. Nwogu does not just want to achieve excellence in this centre, but to support those working in other centres, especially the public sector.”
Besides treatment, Lakeshore offers prevention services such as cervical cancer screening. Lakeshore is also in the process of getting advocacy groups to recognise that lots of HMOs in this country do not have cancer screening on offer, which leads to a situation where patients end up paying a lot more in the long term for care. She said a “nationally recognized screening program” for certain cancers will help bring down the incidence of cancer in Nigeria. “In the UK or US, women get a letter when they turn 40 to come in for their mammograms, and it’s the same thing with a pap smear, when at 25, and subsequently every three years to come in for cervical screening. It’s already built into the system,” she said.
Also, Lakeshore hopes to “set up a directory that anyone who passes through them for any type of screening can be reminded at the appropriate time to come for subsequent screening appointments.”