About 360 million people across the world are living with hearing impairment out of which 8.5million are Nigerians, a US-based Non Governmental Organisation, Starkey Hearing Foundation disclosed this recently.
Besides, lack of Audiologists and access to healthcare have been identified as major factors for the prevalence of the hearing deterioration in the country.
The Director of Global health and Research for the Foundation, Dr. Luqman Lawal spoke to reporters during Hearing Healthcare Training held in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The training was organised by Starkey Hearing Foundation in collaboration with Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation.
Quoting World Health Organisation and the London School of Economics’ recent statistics, Lawal said $750 billion “is lost to treatment of Hearing Impairment and majority of the money lost by developing countries which Nigeria is one of it.”
The medical expert expressed regret that Nigeria and other developing countries do not prioritize treatment of Hearing diseases unlike malaria and tuberculosis and other communicable.
He disclosed that the NGO had established partnerships in 52 countries and helped over 1million people with hearing impairment all across Sub Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and Middle East.
Lawal said “The focus of the Foundation is to help low and middle income country that spread across the continents. Unfortunately these low and middle income countries have problem with access, have problem with human resources in terms of professional people that can attend to them and also they are the ones having problem of affording the cost of hearing aids.
“I will give you an example, one of the cheapest ones cost about $500 and if you convert that to naira now you will know how much it will cost, the middle and low income countries and the population from there cannot afford it and once you grow about 50years and above, you started having some form of hearing impairment and this has been studied that there is a correlation between hearing impairment and cognitive decline and all sorts psychological problems and educational impact.”
A Professor of Audiology, Dr Heather Jensen who lamented dearth of professionals in Africa, said “there is one audiologist to one million people in Africa.”
According to her, ageing, medication, noise, infections among others are causes of hearing lost, but 80 percent of them don’t have hearing healthcare and professional audiologist.
She explained that Starkey trainees would in turn go back to society to impact on the training on the people in order to curb prevalence of hearing impairment.
Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye and Prof. Folu Ologe of the Department of Ortorhinolaryngology, University of Ilorin, admitted that Nigeria lacked hearing professionals and equally failed to prioritize campaign on hear treatment.
Ipaye, however, promised that Governor Ibikunle Amosun-led government would as part of its healthcare delivery promote hearing treatment.
The University don hinted that no institution in Nigeria specialises in audiology training, but “there is training on hearing treatment.”
In his address, the President and the founder, Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo commended Starkey Hearing Foundation for their initiative.
The founder ,who spoke through his wife, Mrs Bola Obasanjo expressed joy over the development and pledged his total support and commitment toward the realization of the aims and objectives of the programme in Nigeria.
Obasanjo added that the programme would go a long way in reducing the numbers of people leaving with hear challenge.
The former President also mentioned that the Starkey Hearing Foundation collaboration with Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation would also assist the Nigerian Government to realise some of its major objectives in the quality health delivery to the people.
He however thanked Starkey Hearing Foundation for the partnership and urged Nigerians to take the good advantage of the programme and consider it as an opportunity.
Meanwhile, the management of Starkey Hearing Foundation has strongly denounced the information published on the website of Ogun State Television on Tuesday,June 20th, 2017 with the link, http://www.ogtv.com.ng/obasanjo-amosun-solicit-aid-for-hearing-impaired-people/ describing the publication as a false, untrue and blatant misrepresentation.
The publication identified Dr Heather Jensen as “The Chairman, Starkey Hearing Foundation”,
The authority of the foundation therefore declared in a vehement term that the information contained in the report is false and not representing the position of the management of Starkey Hearing Foundation.
The Director of Global Health and Research for the Foundation, Dr. Luqman Lawal who presented the position of the foundation, said Dr Heather Jensen is a consultant with the foundation and not the chairman of the foundation as reported by the media.
Lawal stated that,” the Founder of the Starkey Hearing foundation is Mr. Bill Austin and Dr. Heather Jensen is a consultant and a good supporter of the great work of the Foundation”
He however advised the public to disregard such misleading information, saying that it is a gross misplacement of priority.
The Director also informed that the activities of the foundation scheduled to hold in Lagos, Abia, Kaduna and Kwara states is the implementation of the Phase 1 of the Starkey Hearing Foundation Program, which includes registration, screening, examination, counseling and ear impression taking.
He added that the team would later return in October to provide custom earmolds and hearing aids for about 3000 patients from these states.
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