Cooper Doctor Heads Mission to Establish Much Needed Pediatric ICUs in Nigeria

Odiraa Nwankwor, MD, MPH, a pediatric intensivist at Cooper University Health Care and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Cooper Medical School, is leading an initiative to help establish pediatric intensive units in Nigeria.

Dr. Nwankwor, a Nigerian native and the Founder of Health Place for Children Initiative, developed the “Nigeria Pediatric Intensive Care (PICU) Project” as part of Cooper’s Global Health program to bring medical equipment, guidance, and hand-on training to hospitals throughout that country.

“In my home country, pediatric medical services – particularly intensive care services — are often substandard, and it’s a sad fact that one out of every eight children born in Nigeria will die before age 5 often of preventable diseases,” said Dr. Nwankwor. “We established this mission to help the citizens by building and maintaining strong health systems through international collaboration and support.”

Through his work at Cooper University Health Care and Nemours Alfred I Dupont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, Dr. Nwankwor was able to obtain donations of equipment and supplies to create the first of several Pediatric ICU units last year. He and a team of medical volunteers traveled to Nigeria to set up the ICU and provide guidance and training to the staff there.

While the global pandemic has sidelined international travel for now, this summer Dr. Nwankwor and 14 medical student volunteers from Cooper Medical School of Rowan University have readied another delivery of equipment and supplies which will be shipped to Nigeria this week to establish a second unit.

“Although we aren’t able to travel there in person this year, we are excited that our project has continued and that children and their families in Nigeria will be better served,” he said.

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