Diseases such as colorectal cancer, liver cancer, helicobacter pyloris and other infections that occur in the gastrointestinal(GI) tract are usually not easy to detect when looking out for signs and symptoms. And even when the symptoms are obvious its often too late to treat.
That is the situation in our hospitals at the moment and doctors treating GI diseases are disturbed.
“What we simply do in such cases is offer palliative care and hope that the patient can have a little more time,but that is not what we hope for, our desire is to treat and keep patients alive.” says Professor Musa Borodo, President of the Society for Gastroenterology and Hepatology in Nigeria (SOGHIN).
But most gastroenterologists –physicians who specialises in treating diseases of the stomach can only save the lives of Nigerians who come to the hospitals before it is too late.
“We want people to imbibe the habit of periodic screening especially for colon cancer which I must say is becoming a huge burden in Nigeria especially among people above 40”.
Most Nigerians are usually rushed to the hospital. If you are above 40 and never gone for examination of your colon since birth ,you may just be in the category and the SOGHIN president is concerned that treatment for diseases with no early signs and symptoms such colon cancer and liver cancer can only be detected and treated well if patience present early. And patients would present early if health promotion and patients education becomes prioritised in the country.
Mustering the political will needed to achieve this informed the appointment of Nigeria’s former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon(rtd) as Ambassador on viral hepatitis. Hepatitis is now an epidemic in Nigeria and its largely responsible for the increase in liver cancer in the country.
“Specifically you are aware that on viral hepatitis we have invited people from the government, like His Excellency, the former Head of State, Generel Yakubu Gowon (Rtd.) who is the ambassador on viral hepatitis and we are hoping that we can get the support we need to ensure that the management of such diseases are backed up by policies that can support standard of care and the subsidised treatment just in like it was done in HIV”.
Borodo was speaking at the opening day of SOGHIN 2016 Conference which started this week with a workshop on modern technology and surgical skills at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital( LUTH).
The goal of the conference this year is to explore better ways of treating diseases of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract leveraging on technology.
“What we do hope to see after this conference is an increase in the level of awareness about diseases such as colon cancer using patient education as a key tool since the doctors and nurses who look after them would have improved their skills in early detection and treatment” says Dr. Mobolaji Oludara, LOC Chairman of the 2016 SOGHIN Conference.
According to Oludara, this year’s conference is a unique one because it incorporates an advance surgical training at LASUTH while one is ongoing at LUTH.
“It is also special because for the first time we are looking at issues that we really want to solve as a country. We have brought facilitators to take sessions. So, as far as liver detection and liver transplantation are concerned, we have to start from somewhere. We believe at the end of this conference, we must find a way forward.”
Dr. Funmilayo Lesi from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), suggested how best ignorance can be reduced among patients and medical practitioners as far as GI diseases are concerned.
“I think all the stakeholders which include the Federal Government, the state government, the health workers, the media and patients themselves must see GI diseases as a major health concern. If we use HIV as an example,
especially how increase in sensitisation was done with the support from the media the we have to engage, get the message out engender regular screening, early detection and improved management,” she said.