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Training a new generation of obesity specialists in Nigeria

Training a new generation of obesity specialists in Nigeria

The Nigerian Obesity Cohort Program is a prequalification pathway to SCOPE Certification for interested clinical medical students in Nigeria.

The program involves completing Step 1 (the Core Learning Path of 8 modules), Step 2 (a minimum of 16 additional modules), and subsequently, Step 3 (clinical postings and a case report on obesity management). On successful completion of the SCOPE program and upon qualification as a medical doctor, the students will be awarded a SCOPE Certificate.

The pilot program is happening in the South-south zone of Nigeria and comprises 26 students. Over 90% have completed Steps 1 and 2 and are currently engaged in clinical postings. Registration scholarships were awarded by the World Obesity Federation (WOF) to students who successfully completed Steps 1 and 2. Since beginning Step 3, the students have been actively promoting obesity education and management and have contributed videos for the World Obesity Day celebrations in 2022.

This program was borne out of an initial desire to provide in-depth knowledge and skills in obesity management to resident doctors in Nigeria, irrespective of their area of specialization. The strategy was to leverage the doctor-patient relationship to begin to tackle obesity in a society where it appears to be culturally and socially acceptable. Generally, our patients do not see their overweight or obesity as a disease requiring medical attention; however, the doctor-patient relationship provides an opportunity for the SCOPE certified doctor to counsel and address obesity issues when such patients seek treatment for other conditions.

It was a challenge to promote and generate interest in obesity education among the resident doctors. During the post-implementation stage, we re-evaluated and changed the strategy to involve clinical medical students soon to be qualified as doctors, with the intention of addressing some of the challenges we encountered with the resident doctors.

The program so far has been successful. Moving forward, the plan is that highly motivated, committed, and successful students within this pilot program will be identified and selected as ‘Youth Ambassadors’ to promote obesity education and SCOPE certification in other medical schools in the country. To make the program sustainable, we plan to promote it in the medical institution and enroll subsequent sets of interested medical students.

Watch the student videos here.