By Oluwabukola Akanni, Ibadan
A Consultant Neurosurgeon, Prof. Adefolarin Malomo, says there are only 50 neurosurgeons in Nigeria, describing the situation as “grossly inadequate’’.
Malomo, who works at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Ibadan.
NAN reports that a neurosurgeon is a medical specialist who treats diseases and conditions affecting the nervous system, including the brain, spine, spinal cord, and the peripheral nerves.
Malomo said that while the number of neurosurgeons have increased in comparison to his early days when he started as a neurosurgeon, neurosurgical service in Nigeria remained grossly inadequate.
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“Neurosurgery in Nigeria actually started with Prof. Latunde Odekun in 1962 after training in the U.S as a neurosurgeon; he was actually the first black neurosurgeon anywhere in the world.
“As of 1992, there were just six neurosurgeons in Anglophone- West Africa, but today we have about 50 neurosurgeons in Nigeria alone.
“That is still very far from some cities in North America which have over 30 neurosurgeons.
“Our small number of neurosurgeons are also not evenly distributed; we have none in the North-Eastern part of the country,” he said.
According to the neurosurgeon, neurosurgery as a field of medicine remains critical, especially in a country where road traffic accidents are increasingly common.
He said that more neurosurgeons are needed to reduce the number of unnecessary deaths and complications caused by unattended neurosurgical cases.
“If you break your brain, you break yourself, your life and your goal; your brain affects the body and the person.
“Road traffic accident are pretty common in a country like ours due to many factors, including technological and economical underdevelopment.
“A lot of accidents occur that lead to brain and spinal cord injuries; when you break your spinal cord, you break your life, everything changes.
“As a result, we need people who are trained in this specialty that can act promptly to prevent unnecessary morbidity and complications,” he said.
Malomo said the dearth of neurosurgical practice in the country was not unconnected with the poof infrastructure and incentives.
He said that the longer period of residency training in neurosurgery had also not encouraged many to go into that specialty.
“The field of neurosurgery is one of the most sophisticated surgical specialties
“All over the world, interest in neurosurgery tends to be on the lower side, mostly because of the duration that it takes, the stress and the pattern of life it dictates.
“You spend six years in medical school and if you want to train as a neurosurgeon you spend another six years, whereas, those that go into other specialty spend lesser years,” he said.
Malomo called on the Federal Government and other stakeholders to invest in neurosurgical services and training in all the nation’s tertiary hospitals.