The President of Otorhinolaryngological Society of Nigeria (ORLSON), Dr Biodun Olusesi, has urged the federal government to waive customs duty on the importation of medical devices such as Cochlear hearing implantation.
He said this at the Cochlear product pre-launch, which was held in Lagos.
Olusesi said the cost of cochlear implantation could be reduced if the government waives customs duty on importation of the medical device or subsidises the treatment as done in some countries like South Africa.
As the Head of Department ENT at the National Hospital, Abuja, Olusesi lamented that five of 100 children born in Nigeria have significant hearing impairment.
He emphasised: “For the past 15 years in my clinic, out of every 10 hearing impaired children presented, three would have causes that can be treated using just hearing aid.”
He continued that another three are the ones that have discharging ears. “They have an improvement when you do surgery for them. Then the remaining 10 are the ones that have very severe type of hearing impairment that cannot be helped by hearing aid. They are the ones that can be helped by cochlear implantation.”
According to Olusesi, although he highlighted that Cochlear implantation is not for everyone. “Cochlear implant is only recommended if we certify during investigation that this child has a nerve of hearing. It is for those that are born with hearing nerves yet unable to talk.
“So what Cochlear implant does is just to replace the functions of ear cells that God has positioned inside our ear that translates the movement of ear drums and the bones of the ear into electrical activity which goes to the brain and enables us to hear.”
Meanwhile, Australian Ambassador to Nigeria, John Donnelly, said Cochlear company has developed technologies to address the problem of hearing for both children and adults.
He stated that Cochlear has provided these implants to over 600,000 people in over 100 countries since it was founded 40 years ago.
He reiterated that the cost of the implant could be reduced with a waiver on some of the taxes paid on importation of the device to Nigeria.
“This will go a long way in assisting doctors, who are committed to improving the hearing of Nigerians,” adding that there is a cost-sharing model used in South Africa where the health system pays some percentage for the device and the individual also pays for it.”