ECHO Participant Spotlight: Dr. Tonia Onyeka

“The [Paediatric Project ECHO] sessions have helped to broaden my knowledge of paediatric pain management and palliative care, helped me introduce some innovations to our practice of paediatric palliative care and has afforded me the opportunity to interact with different clinicians and healthcare professionals from around the globe who also attend the sessions”

Dr. Tonia Onyeka

has been participating in Paediatric Project ECHO sessions since 2018. She is a Physician Anaesthetist, Pain and Palliative Medicine doctor and Associate Professor at the College of Medicine, University of Nigeria where she graduated from several years ago. She is the founding and current Head of the Pain & Palliative Care Unit of her hospital, the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) where she leads her team to cater for children and adults with palliative care needs. She is a member of several professional bodies including the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of Nigeria (HPCAN), the American Society for Clinical Oncology (ASCO), the America Association for Hospice and Palliative Medicine (AAHPM) and the International Association for the Study of Pain (IASP). She was a member of the Technical Expert Group (TEG) that produced first-ever pain management guidelines for Nigerian healthcare professionals in 2018. She is currently PI for nationwide pain e-training of Nigerian medical undergraduates. Her areas of research interest are Adult and Paediatric Palliative Care, Pain and Symptom management, Quality of Life, End-of life issues, Regional Anaesthesia, Advanced Care Planning and eHealth.

Exploring organizational culture regarding provision and utilization of palliative care in a Nigerian context: An interpretive descriptive study

Tonia was involved in conceptualizing the study, analyzing the data and writing the manuscript. Their research, ‘Exploring organizational culture regarding provision and utilization of palliative care in a Nigerian context: An interpretive descriptive study’ was prompted by their desire to find out why palliative care growth remain stunted in Nigeria despite worldwide prominence of the specialty and the importance of palliative care in the Sub-Saharan African given the extremely huge cancer and other non-communicable disease burden it carries. They were especially worried that despite the introduction of institutionalized palliative care in Nigeria through the establishment of the first palliative care unit in the University College Hospital, Ibadan in 2007 and the roughly 17 palliative care practices in the present-day Nigeria, growth of the specialty remains very slow. They sought to dissect one institution to observe for issues related to its policies as they affect the day-today operations of the unit and ultimately the growth of the practice. They admit that the conduct of our study in just one institution limits generalizability but however the findings can help policy-makers and administrators in the study institution and other palliative care units with similar issues make the required changes to boost the practice of palliative care in Nigeria.

We asked Tonia…

What impact has Paediatric Project ECHO had on your day-to-day practice?

“To say that the impact that the ECHO sessions have had on my day-to-day practice of pain management and palliative care in children and adults has been tremendous, is an understatement. I have received so much benefits since I joined the SickKids ECHO sessions introduced to me by Dr. Jennifer Stinson and Dr. Adam Rapoport. Firstly, the sessions have helped to broaden my knowledge of paediatric pain management and palliative care. Secondly, it has helped me introduce some innovations to our practice of paediatric palliative care. Thirdly, it has afforded me the opportunity to interact with different clinicians and healthcare professionals from around the globe who also attend the sessions. In addition, the ECHO sessions have eliminated the issues that previously existed for me with regards to finding mentoring from North America for my paediatric palliative care practice. Hence distance is no longer a barrier thanks to the telemedicine opportunity provided by the SickKids ECHO sessions.”

Tonia’s Favourite Sessions

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‘Legacy Creation’ by Lori Ives-Baine & Shaindy Alexander, Pallaitive Care ECHO session

“Prior to the Palliative Care ECHO session, I had never heard of Legacy creation and the concept was captivating to me because it defined a set of activities that the patient at the end-of-life and their families could engage in to improve their sense of well-being, reduce existential distress and ease the grieving process. Even though it seems alien to our African culture which in many places forbid the mention of death and dying, as I grasped its importance and impact on terminally-ill patients and their families, I realized that it was a concept that we could explore among terminally-ill African patients and see if the same therapeutic benefit will be seen with them and their families. “

Speaking to Children about Pain‘ by Shirin Ataollahi-Eshqoor, Pain Managment ECHO session

“This topic was timely as in our practice we almost never speak to the child about their pain and almost always give most of the information about pain and its treatment to the parent or ward of the child, albeit incompletely. For me, this topic reinforced the notion that the child is the best person to talk about his/her pain and that talking to the child about pain would endear the child to the healthcare provider, increase his/her confidence in the clinician and therefore ensure compliance with treatment.”

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Palliative Care

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    December 16, 2020

    11:15 am 12:45 pm

    Depression & Anxiety | Palliative Care Session #3.12

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Pain Management

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    November 27, 2020

    12:00 pm 1:00 pm

    Procedural pain (including Comfort Promise) & Non-pharmacological acute pain strategies | Pain Management Session #4.10

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