opinionBy Lawal Umar Bala
The WHO African regional office in 1995 observed with concern the increase in the incidence of deafness in some African countries. Therefore, member countries were advised to develop strategies to combat this ailment. The Nigerian government established National Ear Care Centre, Kaduna in 1999 to lead in the diagnosis and treatment of Ear, Nose and Throat diseases in the country, conduct and coordinate researches into the prevalence of deafness in Nigeria and to train manpower for the ENT specialty.
Until 2009, the Centre has worked in various temporary sites provided by the Kaduna State Government. The allocation of former psychiatric department of Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH) in 2005, situated at No. 3 Golf Course Road Kaduna, made the centre to prepare ground for movement to its permanent site. The permanent site was commissioned on 29th June 2009 by the then Honorable minister of State, Dr Aliyu Idi Hong.
Manpower training and development is one of the mandates of the centre. It has the only accredited school of post-Basic ENT Nursing. To ensure that the school stands on a sound footing, the Kaduna State Government was once again approached to allocate space at the School of Health Technology, Tudun Wada Kaduna which was granted. A block of six flats was also rented in 2003 which has served as students' hostel since then. These facilitated the accreditation of the programme by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria in 2004. The first Joint Convocation of the School was held at the Centre's permanent site on 2yth June 2009. Over 290 ENT nurses have graduated from the school and are engaged in both public and private hospitals across the country.
After careful consideration of the high incidence of deafness and hearing impairment for avoidable causes, especially amongst rural dwellers, the centre, in collaboration with the Community Health Officers Registration Board, introduced a four week Primary Ear Care Course in 2004. Over 600 Health Workers were trained to providing Primary Ear Care services in the rural community clinics in Nigeria.
The present Medical Director of the centre Professor Babagana M. Ahmad, since assuming office, has done quite a lot to allow the centre live up to its mandate. He embarked on renovation and restructuring of the buildings most of which were in dilapidated state. Old structures have been renovated to accommodate the clinics, theatre, wards, radiology, audiology, laboratory, pharmacy and medical records. A new patient department was constructed as well as ENT block to accommodate administration and consultants offices.
With the Installation of ENT equipment procured and relocation of the Clinical Services to the permanent site in January 2009, the centre became set for the commencement of residency training. Both the West African College of Surgeons (WACS) and the National Postgraduate Medical College for ORL have granted the centre partial accreditation to commence residency training. The centre has started producing consultants in the ENT specialty. Dr. Sahabi Bande of Federal Medical Centre, Birnin Kebbi, successfully passed his part II final exams of the West African College of Surgeons in 2009. Subsequently, two of the centre's resident doctors have passed the part II final examination of the West African college of surgeons and have become consultant ENT surgeons. The residency training has been going on smoothly in accordance with the laid down guidelines. Dr Umar Grema is the coordinator of the training.
As at September 2002, the Centre had staff strength of 64 with only two medical officers, one pharmacy technician and four general nurses as the core clinical staff. There was neither laboratory nor X-ray department then. This has grown steadily over the years through approvals granted by the Head of the Civil Services of the Federation to 147 in 2009 and 189 in 2011. The present manpower, though not sufficient, is a remarkable improvement. Concerted effort was also made in the area of manpower training and development where by officers were sponsored for both management and professional courses for skill acquisition/improvement.
A summary of the activities showed a lot of achievements. They include: acquisition of permanent site; development, equipping of permanent site paving way for relocation of clinical services; commissioning of permanent site; first joint convocation of ENT Nurses held on 2ih June 2009 held at the permanent site.
Other developmental achievements of the centre are as follows: The building of two storey ENT Block to accommodate both Clinical and Administration directorate was commissioned by Minister of State for Health Dr. Mohammed Ali Pate in 2012; the completion of the building has significantly created a conductive working environment for enhanced health care service delivery.
The drilling of an industrial borehole with a surface tank of 50,000 litres capacity was done to provide sufficient water supply for smooth running of the daily clinical activities, the expansion of medical laboratory; the student's hostel and the procurement of 450 KVA Generator Plant and 11 KVA transformer to alleviate the problem of electricity at the centre.
Bala wrote in from Kawo, Kaduna.