N2b to fight hearing loss in Kwara, Kaduna, others

Date: 2017-06-13

It may not have the same prominence as eye disorders but ear patients know how much their condition hurts. A sufferer once narrated how he could neither eat nor sleep nor concentrate until the specialists put him out of his torture. Ear ailments are also not a one-off. They are quite widespread. That is why a United States-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Starkey Foundation, wants to tackle it in five states of the federation. The states are Kwara, Kaduna, Lagos, Abia and Ogun states. The free healthcare outreach will cost about N2 billion.

The programme is aimed at increasing access to hearing services. The free healthcare services are billed to take place in Ogun from June 16-20, Lagos (21- 23), Abia (7 July), Kaduna July 9 and Kwara (July 11). The foundation will also provide service and maintain hearing aids given to people living with hearing impairment at no cost.

In a statement, Director of Global Health and Research for the Foundation, Dr. Luqman Lawal said that the foundation will carry out the medical outreach in partnership with the Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation, federal ministry of health, state governments, the academia and professionals in the field of ear and hearing care in Nigeria and NGO.

The foundation said further that Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation would be responsible for the coordination of the logistics of the programme in Nigeria through partnerships with the federal ministry of health, state governments and local stakeholders within the country.

Dr. Lawal noted that the World Health Organisation estimates that about 360 million people live with disabling hearing loss worldwide with 32 million of them being children and approximately 90% of people living with hearing loss reside in low resource settings with little to no access to ear and Hearing healthcare services.

He said that a recent national survey of hearing impairment and deafness in Nigeria shows that approximately 8.5 million (five per cent) Nigerians have some form of hearing impairment.

He said in the first year of the partnership; the Foundation will be serving approximately 3000 patients with the hope of increasing the number of patients served to about 15,000 or 20,000 annually, based on the success of the first year.

He said "In low and middle-income countries, hearing aids have only 2.5 percent penetration rate (i.e. only 1 in 40 people that require hearing aids have access to and can afford it). It has also been estimated that 50 per cent of hearing loss is preventable through simple and effective public health approaches".

These impacts of hearing loss are not only on individuals but also on family members, communities and countries," he said.

Dr. Lawal said due to the wide access gap that disproportionately affects the low and middle- income countries and the consequent impacts, The Starkey Hearing Foundation was founded in 1984 by Mr. Bill Austin in the United Sates to address hearing challenges.

He explained that the foundation has created and now operates community-based hearing healthcare programs in 52 low and middle-income countries in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Pacific Asia and the Middle East.

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