From Tony Osauzo and Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
A Consultant Orthodontist to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Professor Idia Ize-Iyamu, yesterday, bemoaned the dearth of orthodontists in Nigeria, saying that the 70 practitioners in the country were inadequate to serve over 200 million Nigerians.
Delivering the 262 Inaugural Lecture of the University of Benin (UNIBEN), Prof. Ize-Iyamu, Professor of Orthodontics at the University, said according to the Nigeria Association of Orthodontists (NOA), the ratio is one orthodontist to 2.7million people as at 2019.
She contended that this is in sharp contrast to the United States of America where there is one orthodontist to 5,054 people, adding that the figures were also encouraging in European countries and the UK and therefore called for the training of more specialists in Nigeria to meet the ratio obtained in developed countries.
Besides, Prof. Ize-Iyamu pointed out that the trainer to trainer ratio at the West African College of Surgeon, and the National Postgraduate Medical College of Nigeria is one consultant orthodontist to three and four doctors respectively.
“This makes the pace slow, given the number of training centres are also few”, she said, disclosing that out of the 70 orthodontists in the country, there were currently 10 professors in Nigeria with four in Lagos, three in Benin, two in Ife and one in Port Harcourt.
“There are only nine accredited dental schools for undergraduate training which involves teaching orthodontist as a subject and part of the curriculum. The total number of dental students approved in Nigeria by the Medical and Dental Council are 165 which translates to one professor to over 16 students and 21 million Nigerians”, Prof. Ize-Iyamu further disclosed.
She urged policy makers to formulate plans that would incorporate the poor in the society so that interventions that could transform a smile are made available in selected health facilities, just as she called on the federal government to set up special hospitals to take care of the children with craniofacial defects.
Professor Ize-Iyamu whose lecture was titled “The magic of transformation: Blessed are ye that weep now, for ye shall laugh”, advocated that the suggested special hospital should be free for such children to encourage those who are hiding as a result of shame and inability to afford the cost of treatment be attended to even as she said it should include orthodontic treatment for patients with cleft lip and palate and for those with severe handicapping malocclusions that could affect their social and mental states.
She also said funding should be made through special interventions for these special groups of patients.
Narrowing it to Edo State, she said there are currently a total of 6 trained Orthodontists out of which three are professors of Orthodontics in the state .
She said this total number currently serves a population of over 3,233,366 and it represents a ratio of approximately 1:539,000.
She said this number is grossly inadequate for the management of Orthodontic problems in both children and adults.