Ms. Laurie Tauriainen, a nurse with the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Dallas, Texas is conducting a week-long training program for 34 nurses at the National Hospital in Abuja.
The training in patient navigation is being organized in collaboration with Project Pink Blue, a non-profit organization led by Mr. Runcie Chidebe, a Nigerian alumnus of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). Project Pink Blue provides free cancer screenings and targeted outreach to poor, rural communities.
The patient navigators training is part of the U.S. Embassy’s support for strengthening health systems in Nigeria. The participants in the training are from the Federal Capital Territory, Kebbi, and Enugu states.
Chief Medical Director of the National Hospital Dr. J.A.F. Momoh and Cultural Affairs Officer Larry Socha participated in the official opening ceremony on Monday, November 28.
Patient navigators are trained to work with patients, families, and physicians to ensure cancer patients’ needs are appropriately and effectively addressed. By helping patients and their families to communicate with elements of the health care system, the navigators aim to assist health care providers diagnose and effectively treat cancer in its early stages.
Dr. Momoh said the hospital was proud to host the training. “We have very good systems and facilities for early diagnosis and treatment monitoring. However, this is not enough without someone to navigate. For me, this is the missing link,” he stated.
Mr. Socha remarked that “disease cuts across society no matter who you are – no matter how rich or famous, no matter your race or religion, health challenges – including cancer – touch individuals and families across the spectrum.” He recalled that President Barack Obama set an ambitious goal in his last State of the Union address earlier this year, “Let’s cure cancer once and for all.” Similar to the U.S. space program of the Kennedy era 50 years before, Socha noted that scientists and researchers are working to achieve this goal.
Ms. Tauriainen’s participation is made possible through the U.S. State Department Fulbright Specialist program which awards grants to U.S. academics and professionals to engage in short-term collaborative projects in over 140 countries.