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UNILORIN: Female varsity don performs first cancer-of-the-eye treatment



Dupe Ademola-Popoola

A female University lecturer and Professor of Ophthalmology at the University of Ilorin, Dupe Ademola-Popoola, has led some Nigerian doctors to perform the first treatment of Cancer of the eye in Nigeria.

ROYAL NEWS reports that the varsity don is also a Consultant Ophthalmologist at the UNILORIN Teaching Hospital, (UITH).

Known medically as Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy (IAC) treatment, the feat was performed in conjunction with some visiting Israeli surgeons, who were in Nigeria to train Nigerian doctors in performing IAC for children with eye cancer.

Prof. Ademola-Popoola, who is also the Director of the University’s Computer Services and Information Technology Unit (COMSIT) told newsmen recently that she and some Nigerian doctors partnered with Israeli surgeons to perform the first Intra-Arterial Chemotherapy (IAC) treatment for children who are afflicted with Retinoblastoma also known as cancer of the eye.

Prof. Ademola-Popoola pointed out that surgery was part of the activities of the International Retinoblastoma Workshop facilitated by the Department of Ophthalmology, University of Ilorin.

The don also disclosed that the UITH had been performing Retinoblastoma surgery for decades, but the treatment has evolved over time with advancement in knowledge and technology.

According to her, the treatment of eye cancer for children at the UITH only just managed to save lives in the past but now it manages to save eyes along with lives.

She however lamented that doctors are unable to save vision when parents present the children late after the disease had progressed.

Prof. Ademola-Popoola added that the IAC method of treatment has been available for some years in other countries, but due to high cost of its application, Nigeria was left out.

She noted that the UITH is yet to have the new technology for the surgery but the hospital has been supportive in the healthcare of children with the disease and had become a referral centre in the country.

The Consultant Ophthalmologist explained further that three children from Taraba State and Abuja were brought to UITH for the surgical interventions.

She appealed to the Federal Government to establish necessary facilities and laboratories for the treatment of Retinoblastoma in UITH, adding that about 400 children are expected to develop the disease every year in Nigeria.

She also canvassed for the establishment of health facilities dedicated for the treatment of eye diseases across the six geopolitical zones of the country.

The consultant appealed to all stakeholders to fund the treatment of the disease, saying that it is a very expensive disease to manage and that treatment is lifelong.

Prof Didi Fabian, an Ophthalmologist at Sheba Medical Centre, Israel, explained that the UITH facilitated the interventions which they were happy to key into.

He described Retinoblastoma as an eye cancer that begins in the retina, which is the sensitive lining on the inside of the eye.

Prof. Ademola-Popoola established and heads the Paediatric, Strabismus and Ocular oncology services at the University of Ilorin Teaching Hospital, Ilorin. She completed the Fellowship of the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria-NPMCN (FMCOphth) and that of the West African College of Surgeon (FWACS)) in Ophthalmology in 2001.

She subsequently did sub-specialty training in Paediatric Ophthalmology at the LV Prasad Eye Institute, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, Andrea Pradesh, India (2007) and International Council of Ophthalmology Fellowship in Ophthalmic Oncology at the Eye and Laser World Centre, Giza Egypt and Rod El Farag National Eye Centre Cairo, Egypt (2009).

Prof. Ademola-Popoola had some stint at Emory, and Kansas in USA. She was part of the ROP-NET and RB-NET of Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust and RB-MDT with international faculties from US, UK, India, Egypt, Israel etc and Nigeria. She has been providing leadership to support development of standardized RB treatment in Nigeria.

Working with a highly dedicated team, she transformed University of Ilorin/Teaching Hospital to a frontline referral and training Centre for Paediatric Ophthalmology in Nigeria and especially for Retinopathy of Prematurity and retinoblastoma care.

An advocate for kids’ eye care, Prof. Ademola-Popoola facilitated and was the local host doctor for ORBIS (an international Eye care NGO based in the New York, USA) Flying Eye Hospital -FEH aboard a DC -10 aircraft and hospital-based-program -HBP with 52 volunteer international eye care super-specialists (from 13 different countries from 28 February to 20th March in Ilorin, Nigeria, 2011.

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