National Ear Care Centre: Bringing ENT Medical “Vacations” To Nigeria
Whether the mentality and craze for medical vacation in overseas by Nigerian leaders would end up with improved medical facilities in our health care system still remains a mirage.
Even though government has made some loadable impressions in pursuing global standards’ practice and to reposition the country’s health sector, little or nothing seems to have changed. Equally, too, transfer of technology into the health sub-sector to achieve positive results has been ongoing to achieve greater participation and patronage.
Common sense would appreciate that so much might not have been done to jettison the love, for decades, of high taste for foreign trips under the guise of ‘medical treatment’ or ‘vacation.’ In realisation of these noble objectives, some hospitals were created and upgraded to “specialist” status by successive regimes in the country.
Typical of the health institution is National Ear Care Center, NECC, located in Kaduna, the defunct capital of Northern Region. Established in 1999 by federal government of Nigeria, the Center stands on triple mandates.
The mandates, which are important and key to human existence, include Manpower Training, Treatment of Patients in areas of Ears, Nose and Throat (ENT)-related diseases, and coordinate research in the field of ENT diseases, respectively.
Right from inception – when the Center commenced operation in Lagos under Prof. Philip Okeowo, as the pioneer Medical Director – a lot of progress have been made towards meeting the Centre’s mandates.
Records show that after initiating the process that led to the success of NECC, through several presentations made to the government, Prof. Okeowo of LUTH was replaced by Prof. Babagana M. Ahmed from University of Maiduguri, as the Centre’s second Medical Director. Under Ahmed administration, who served for upwards of eleven years, the Centre was relocated from Lagos to Kaduna and to the present permanent site – which is a laudable achievement.
While in Kaduna, the Centre passed through many hurdles for office accommodation before it finally got to the present permanent site. Dr. Mohammed Garba Mainasara, oversaw the Centre before Dr. A.S. Labaran was appointed acting medical director by Federal Ministry of Health, between 2013 and 2014.
The Centre grew up from strength-to-strength and, when ABU Teaching Hospital Kaduna moved to its permanent site in Shika, ENT moved into its psychiatric wing, located at Independence Way, Kaduna, as permanent site. While at the permanent site, the Centre became fully functional and integrated with both the administrative, clinical service and operative theatre department – when Dr. Bakari Aminu took over as substantive Medical Director from Dr. S.A. Labaran, who served in acting capacity as Medical Director.
Unlike in the past, when the country had only but a Training Center, NECC is fully accredited by both West African College of Surgeons and National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria as a training institution.
Penultimate to last year alone, it graduated two new fellows as consultants and a lot of resident doctors in various stages of training to become consultants. With the help of Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria and the determination of the past medical directors, the school has also trained over 500 ENT Nurses over the years for all teaching hospitals, federal medical centres and state general hospitals across Nigeria.
Some West African countries are trying to replicate Nigeria’s same programmes in their countries. Examples are Ghana and Sierra Leon, who have been communicating with Nigerian experts. NECC, as well, trained middle-level manpower for primary ear care courses, which take four weeks programme for community health workers, among others.
We also have community health officers and extension workers, who come from all over the country. Many states have made special arrangements with the school, and at all times sent their community health staffs for the training. The programmes have far-reaching impact on health care systems in Nigeria, where deafness is seen as a hidden handicap, and most of Nigeria’s countrymen and women in villages believe that ENT sickness are not something one should go to hospital about; instead, they go to consult healers and pray over it.
As part of the achievement made so far, the Centre is adorned, procured and installed 32 Slides CT Scan machines with 2014 capital appropriation; has constructed new school audiology technician programme and renovated a medical store.
It has also procured a new solar street light, office furniture for staff, procured utility vehicles, operating theatre instruments with 2014 capital, and completion of CSSD block and laundry with 2015 capital.
Indeed, to make the Center standardised sales – a home away from home – construction of a storey building to accommodate audiology, temporary bone lab, consultants offices (in progress), renovation of male and female OPD, is almost at completion stage.
It may also interest you to note that approval has been granted to the Centre by NHIS as primary provider. The welfare of staff has also been prioritised by the current crop of leadership, led by Associate Prof. Bakari Aminu, after the settlement of overtime arrears, uniform allowance arrears and relativity allowance, respectively, between 2013/14 and 2015, among others.