NIGERIA’S FIRST INDIGENOUS FEMALE NEUROSURGEON
Dr. Salamat Ahuoiza Aliu (b. 1980) is the first indigenously trained female neurosurgeon in Nigeria and also the first female to be certified as a neurosurgeon in West Africa. This comes as no surprise as hard work does pay off and Dr. Salamat personifies that.
Born in Ilorin, Kwara State, where she had most of her education up to the university level, Aliu found the area of neurosurgery interesting and intriguing and then decided to specialise in the discipline. Though without its challenges of being female, she faced these challenges with inspired beliefs that she could excel and she did.
Neurosurgeons are not just brain surgeons, they specialise in the diagnosis and surgical treatment of disorders of the central and peripheral nervous system including congenital anomalies, trauma, tumours, vascular disorders, infections of the brain or spine, stroke, or degenerative diseases of the spine. A neurosurgeon performs surgeries on the brain and the spinal cord, where our neurosurgeons have decided to specialize in spine surgeries. A neurologist treats patients “non-surgically”.
They are medically trained neurosurgical specialists who can also help patients suffering from back and neck pain as well as a host of other illnesses ranging from trigeminal neuralgia to head injury and Parkinson’s disease. The education needed to become a neurosurgeon is rigorous and extensive, requiring no less than four years of undergraduate studies, four years of medical school, and five to seven years of fellowship training.
It’s physically hard work, and it’s emotionally hard. Many neurosurgical procedures are only an hour or two in length, but complex operations, such as removing invasive brain tumours, can last 15 hours.
An Ebira woman from Okene Local Government in Kogi State, 40-year-old Salamat is happily married with two children and as of 2019 worked at the National Hospital in Abuja.