Dr. Adu Appiah-Kubi
Gynecologic Oncologist, Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, Kumasi, Ghana

International Mentor: Dr. Carolyn Johnston
Host Institution: University of Michigan

Areas of study: Chemotherapy administration including appropriate dosing and dose modifications, prevention and management of side effects and toxicities, and selection of the best chemotherapy drugs for patients; patient education on the particulars of chemotherapy and prevention and management of side effects; building collaborative relationships with clinical pharmacists and nursing to build an effective chemotherapy unit in Ghana.

The benefits for my region are priceless. After completion of my gynecologic oncology fellowship at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) in Kumasi, Ghana, I am expected to move to Ho, the largest city of the Volta region of Ghana, where I will be a member of the clinical faculty for the University of Health and Allied Sciences, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the Ho Regional Teaching Hospital. I shall be tasked to head and immediately establish a gynecologic oncology unit in the hospital to serve the region with a population of over 2 million people. Currently such services are not available and patients must travel to KATH or Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra for such services, which reduces the likelihood that they will actually pursue treatment for obvious financial and social reasons. In as much as my fellowship programme qualifies me to do such, it is imperative that I acquire as much skill and knowledge as possible to make me function more efficiently to the benefit of the region. Included in this process of building a unit, I will need to coordinate care with nurses and physician extenders (Physician Assistants). I will need to develop a chemotherapy unit. Cervical and ovarian cancer, as well as gestational trophoblastic disease are very common and as women typically present with advanced disease, chemotherapy is an essential modality. My current fellowship training program has trained me exceptionally well in oncologic surgical techniques as well as the basic chemotherapy knowledge, but has not provided me with the practical aspect of administering and managing the process of chemotherapy. I will also always have the support of outside mentorship from Michigan Medicine, the oncology unit at KATH and NCCN and ASCO documents and guidelines.

This mentorship programme would add a different perspective of how gynecologic-oncology is practiced in a different part of the world, the technologies available in advanced countries as compared to ours, and the strides being made to improve the specialty day by day. We have available in Ghana, many of the basic chemotherapy drugs used in gynecologic oncology, so it is imperative to have a working understanding of their use. This is also an excellent opportunity to learn under experienced and knowledgeable seniors who can impart knowledge through so many avenues, including tips and observations, which are sometimes not available in any textbook.

But initially upon my return to KATH before finishing my fellowship, I shall seek to impart whatever I learn from the experience with my fellowship colleagues by having power point presentations on various topics during our clinical meetings and other forums. Also during ward rounds and case discussions I shall update them on the new or most current trends in management.

Read more about Dr. Adu Appiah-Kubi in the Member Spotlight

Dr. Emmanuel Adekunle Sajo
Senior Registrar, Gynecologic Oncology Unit, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Lagos, Nigeria

International Mentor: Professor Greta Dreyer
Host Institution: Steve Biko Academic Hospital, Kalafong Provincial, South Africa

Areas of Study: Palliative care, peri-operative management, and  surgical skills such as cytoreduction, lymphatic dissection, minimally invasive surgery and pelvic devascularisation procedures

Cancer is now the leading cause of death worldwide and Sub-Saharan Africa countries like Nigeria is now faced with rising incidence of cancers and cancer related death especially gynaecological malignancies. Gynaecological cancer care in Nigeria is still very primitive due to lack of adequate trained personnel and equipment needed for its management. Given the opportunity to acquire further training in cancer care through this mentorship program, I will add to the workforce providing improved and quality care to women suffering from gynaecological cancers. The mentorship relationship will also foster knowledge transfer to aspiring doctors through local mentorship thereby building local talents and reduce brain drain that is now the bane of our health system. It will also help to reorganise my institution to provide improved cancer management by strengthening the multidisciplinary approach and incorporate palliative care to women with advanced stage diseases that are not amenable to definitive treatment.

I will be able to achieve this feat by first giving the head of my department and the Chief Medical Director of my institution a comprehensive report on the knowledge and skills acquired, thereafter seek their cooperation to provide improved cancer care in my institution through advocacy. I will also institute regular training for the health professionals to change their orientation and attitudes towards positive and improved cancer management.

Dr. Aliaksandr Shushkevich

Research Scientist & Gynecologic Oncology Surgeon, National Cancer Center of Belarus

International Mentor: Dr. Jubilee Brown
Host Institution: Levine Cancer Institute at Atrium Health, Charlotte, North Carolina

Areas of study: Laparoscopic surgery, fast-track surgery model, sentinel lymph nodes

Today, the main aim for Belarus is to develop medicine and try to be at the same level with whole world. In my opinion, we can achieve this by studying with the best doctors and at the best cancer centres. I will greatly benefit from this IGCS Visiting Scholar observership.

At our department, we try to introduce laparoscopic surgery, so I strongly motivated for learning all tips and tricks in laparoscopic surgery. Improving my laparoscopic surgical skills can potentially help our department provide more operation by laparoscopic methods. This will help patients recover faster and return to normal life as soon as possible.

We have a chance to participate in international trials, but unfortunately, no one has enough experience for it. And of course, the principle of fast-track surgery, which is must-have for all clinics today. Study of the model of fast-track surgery can potentially decrease time before operation and as a result decrease time at a hospital and improve psychological health of patients.

Learning of new methods of cancer treatment such as sentinel lymph nodes, will help introduce the practice to Belarus and as result decrease postoperative complications.

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