By Solomon Semaka

Many Nigerians may not have heard or known that there is a National Ear Care Centre in Kaduna, Nigeria. The centre which was established in 1999 is the only specialist hospital in Nigeria for the diagnosis, treatment and research into the ear, nose and throat (ENT) speciality.

Its birth was in recognition by the World Health Organization (WHO) of the very high prevalence of hearing impairment in Africa, (Nigeria inclusive) and its subsequent encouragement of countries to set up institutions that would, among other things: “spearhead the fight against deafness and hearing impairment through diagnosis and treatment, and carry out as well as coordinate research into the Prevalence of deafness and other hearing impairments in the country.”

In living up to its mandate the centre offers specialised diagnosis and treatment of Ear, Nose and Throat diseases, Ear, Nose and Throat Surgeries, audiology; Audiometry, Sisi Bekesi, Bera tympanometry and Endoscopy. More so, it is also effective in the area of school hearing screening services, Speech Therapy, Video Nystagmography and Industrial hearing conversation services. Other services available include ear mould, visual reinforcement audiometric and otoacoustic emission test, etc.

Since the establishment of the Centre, it has achieved in all ramifications based on the tenets of its mandate. For instance, in the area of clinical services, patients come from all over the states of the federation on referral , including the Federal Capital Territory for its services as well as from foreign countries.

It is interesting to note from records available that , over 45,000 patients visited the center for consultation. This comprises 16,225 (52%) new cases and
15,187 (48%) follow-ups. Of this figures,17,293 (55%) patients were infants while 14,149 (45%) patients were adults.  On average, the centre has a monthly attendance of 500 patients and an average annual attendance of 5,160 patients.

According to a report, as of 2018, a total of 238 major surgeries were performed while 8,657 minor procedures/surgery were done.

The Centre which is steadily recording unprecedented giant strides since January 2019 is under the watchful eyes of a consultant ENT Surgeon, Dr Mustapha Abu Yaro.

Dr Yaro is one of the finest ENT surgeons we have in sub-Saharan Africa. Born March 13, 1969, he hails from Katsina State in North-East Nigeria. Dr Yaro was educated at L.G. E.A Primary School Unguwan Rimi Kaduna, 1975-1981 where he obtained his Primary Education. For his post primary education, the young Mustapha attended Government Secondary School Dutsinma from 1981-1983 and at
Rimi College Kaduna 1983-1986 where he obtained his General Certificate of Education. He is an alumnus of the Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, where he studied Medicine from 1989 to 1998. As someone who is always craving for knowledge, he was also at the West African College of Surgeons from 2005-2011 and also qualified as a professional teacher at Federal College of Education Katsina from 2014-2015.

Dr Yaro, since taking his Hippocratic oath has been religiously practising his calling with dedication, passion and love. It must also be stressed that he is having a lucrative practice as a goldfish that has no hiding place. Over the years, he has been a Medical Officer In-charge Of the Nigerian Navy
Secondary School Clinic, Abekuta Ogun State 2000 to 2001, Medical officer In charge of General Hospital Ingawa 2001- 2005, Registrar Department of ENT Surgery, Senior Registrar Department Of ENT Surgery,
Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital 2008-2011, Chief, Department of ENT surgery AKTH 2011 and the Head Of Clinical Services, General Hospital Katsina 2011-2012 among so many other positions.

It should also not go unacknowledged that before he was appointed the Medical Director of the National Ear Care Centre Kaduna, he was the Medical Director/CEO, Hospital Services Management Board, Katsina, a position he assumed in 2018.

To deepen his knowledge on his bias of medical practice, Dr Yaro has attended many workshops and seminars both locally and Internationally. He was at the 59th Annual Scientific Conference of West African College of Surgeons held in Dakar Senegal from 18th January to 26th 2019, attended Leadership retreat for chief executives of Tertiary Health Institutions on 11/5/2017, he also participated at
Oto-rhino-laryngological society of Nigeria(OLSON) 24th annual General meeting and scientific conference 23rd -26th Nov 2016. Among a host of others.

Dr Yaro is also a quintessential medical scholar. To prove his worth in this regard, he has authored and co-authored many articles that are published in local and International peer-reviewed journals. Some of his publications include “Sensorial hearing loss in patients with chronic suppurative otitis media by:
E.S Kolo, A.D Salisu, A.M Yaro, O.Nworgu.In Indian Journal of ORL Head and
Neck Surgery 64(1):59-62 march 2012″ and
“Hypopharyngeal Schwannoma: A rare case presentation and review of literature by: Abdulaziz O. Ahmed, Ali B. Umar, Abdulhakeem.A Aluko, Mustapha A.Yaro” to mention but a few.

Because of his dexterity and expertise, Dr Yaro has been awarded and honoured by several reputable organisations. He is a recipient of a Merit Award for excellence in “effective health care delivery to humanity” by the fellow of the Institute of industrialist and corporate administration in 2016,
State Nominee for National productivity merit Award 2016 and was the winner of Olu Ibekwe Prize In Otorhinolaryngology By the West African College Of Surgeon in March 2012 among many other profesional laurels.

It is important to buttress that the appointment of Dr Mustapha Yaro as the Medical Director of the National Ear Care Centre Kaduna, by President Muhammadu Buhari is a perfect description of “fixing a square peg in a square hole”. It is also a clear demonstration that the president places merit above any other consideration in the making of critical appointments that will benefit the generality of the masses.

Little wonder, the Center, under Yaro, has commenced cochlear implant. For the avoidance of doubt, cochlear implant surgery is a surgical procedure where one who has difficulty in hearing has his hearing restored. This has been made possible by the proactive leadership qualities of Dr Yaro at the centre.

As a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Health, the support of the minister of health must be commended in providing the needed leadership to move the centre forward.

To achieve more results at the centre, the federal government should increase budgetary provisions for the centre to enhance clinical, research and infrastructural development at the centre. Corporate organisations should also consider interventions to support the center consolidate her reforms

Finally, Nigerians should take advantage of the presence of the specialised hospital to have their Ear, Nose and Throat related challenges treated at the centre.

Solomon Semaka is the convener of Save Nigeria Movement


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