On the 26th of November, 2019, the University of Jos held its 91st Inaugural Lecture which was delivered by Prof. Francis Aba Uba, a professor of Surgery and Consultant, Pediatric Surgeon (department of surgery), faculty of clinical sciences college of health sciences, University of Jos with the title: LETTING THOSE LITTLE ONES BLOOM.

The lecture which commenced exactly 10:43 am in the multipurpose auditorium, was anchored by Sam Magaji, who began by introducing the professor taking the lecture (Prof. Francis Uba) and other dignitaries who led a procession to the stage.

Right after the procession, all rose for the National Anthem, then the University of Jos Anthem before the opening prayer which was led by Pastor Ajayi of CRM Jos.

The vice chancellor of the university of Jos, Prof. Sebastine Maimako who was represented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Prof. Gray Gozieme Ejikeme- gave the welcome remark where he expressed his happiness on behalf of the V.C, concerning the outstanding achievements the faculty of health sciences and also disclosed that the V.C is unavoidably absent because of an impromptu meeting which needed his urgent attention. Thereafter, the Head of Department of medical sciences Prof. P. Charles Owoche read out a citation where he highlighted Prof. Uba’s achievements as a pediatric surgeon as he mentioned the separation of Siamese twins as one of his major achievements in his practice. He also added that one of the major drives of Prof. Uba as a pediatric surgeon is his great love for children.

Prof. Francis Uba, when delivering his lecture said: “as a professor, giving an inaugural lecture is a debt to be paid to the university community”. He added that pediatric surgery is a response to the unique needs of children. Pediatric surgery arose in the mid 1879, where it had some challenges including; high mortality rate and antagonism from fellow pediatric surgeons but has evolved as there is a paradigm shift in the practice. The foundation layers to the pillar generation and the progeny of the pillar generation, are the three distinct generation in pediatric surgery- he mentioned. He also added that with the birth of an Association of Pediatric Surgery in Nigeria (APSON) which was established two decades ago, pediatric surgery still faces some challenges: a 1: 800,000 alarming ratio of doctor to patient, limited contact time, inadequate access to pediatric surgery facilities and the high cost of accessing the services.

But however, Prof. Uba is able to go against these odds in his own little way, as he shared some of the reasons he delved into the world of pediatric surgery. First, he was challenged when he slipped from his bed as a child and landed on a lamp where he sustained burns on his chest. He saw his father as a forerunner when it came to care of children and finally his long years of institutional experience. Prof. Uba stated that pediatric surgery starts in the womb (fetal-surgery), hence the focus of his practice. With his prior knowledge on how local birth attendants bury malformed children, he has gone far in reversing a malformed child to a normal one. Treating a number of malformations including: congenital anomalies (example; teratoma, cleft lip, facial nerve palsy), conjoined twins, hernias and others.

Prof. Uba concluded his lecture by saying that if there is still the problem of paucity of pediatric surgical manpower, late presentation of abnormal cases and non- expansion of pediatric training programs, the children in our community would suffer a great deal. During an interview with Prof. Uba, he mentioned that with the provision of children hospitals, there would be a reverse oversea medical tourism. Also stating that the only pediatric hospital in Nigeria was built during Sani Abacha’s era but has now been turned into a general hospital. Hence, he said, how long can we treat the adults at the expense of children; by engaging in healthy practices, we would be LETTING THE LITTLE ONES BLOOM.

Report and photos by Peace Onyewuenyi
Edited by JM (4/5)

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