Society decries dearth of ENT surgeons in Nigeria

By Felicia Imohimi
Abuja –   Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Society of Nigeria (ORLSON), on Friday decried the inadequacy of Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeons (ENT) in Nigeria’s health sector.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Oto-Rhino-Laryngological is the study of diseases which affect the eye, nose, throat as well as the surrounding areas of the head.

Prof. Onyekwere Nwaorgu, President of the Society, who disclosed this at a press conference in Abuja, said such gap was responsible for the rate of ENT diseases in the country.

Nwaorgu who identified the number of ENT surgeons in the country as less than 200, while 199 were still on training, described the number as grossly inadequate to meet the health needs of a population of over 180 million.

He emphasised that if there was enough manpower in the area of specialty, such diseases would be detected and corrected early.

Nwaorgu further attributed the inadequacy of the specialists on decayed infrastructure in health facilities and lack of supportive policies that would boost the performance of the professionals.

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He further blamed such inadequacies on brain drain, adding that a large number of these practitioners were abroad delivering efficient services due to lack of conducive environment and poor infrastructure in Nigeria’s health sector.

“At this moment, we have less than 200 Oto-Rhino-Laryngologists (ENT) surgeons; we have 199 of them presently undergoing training.

“Each of the Federal Institutions has only about seven consultants ENT, but when you go to centres abroad you discover that a single department has over 60 ENT surgeons, which is not comparable to what we have in one zone in Nigeria.

The president then decried the burden of hearing loss in the country and attributed part of the problem to lack of mechanism to ensure prevention and early detection at birth as obtainable in the developed world.

According to him, early detection and rehabilitation will lead to improvement in the development of quick speech in children.

“In the developed world, when a baby is delivered, he or she is tested for hearing loss, children in that category are taken care of and treatment or therapy starts early.

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“It is what we hear that will lead to improvement in quick development of quick speech in children.

“The way forward is for government to give more room for training of resident doctors in ENT. The more we are the better the profession and improved health care delivery.

“Government should support strategies for prevention of hearing loss and its early detection including screening programmes as well as enforcement of legislation against noise pollution,’’ he said.

Similarly, Prof. Titus Ibekwe, Secretary of the society described such inadequacies as a far cry and grossly inadequate to boost health indices with regards to ENT services.

He, however, urged the government to establish a policy on ear and hearing care as well as support a research and training centre to boost the number of specialists in the field. (NAN)

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