By Jessica Ahedor
The World Health Organization’s report on deafness has it that 4 per cent of Ghana’s population is with hearing loss. The report cited high level of all forms of noise as the leading cause, aside exposure to auto toxic drugs through the use of antibiotics, aging, hereditary and radiation.
Hearing impairment is one form of disability that occurs through hereditary, aging, accidents, antibiotics, through chemotherapy especially with compromised immune system with cancer or Tb. Experts say the leading cause of hearing loss in Ghana now is associated to high level of noise.
To establish this, Health Journalist, Jessica Ahedor caught up with an Audiologist at the Korle-bu Teaching Hospital in Accra and she attributed the phenomenon to both social and poor attitudes towards access to health care. According to Jemima Fynn, an Audiologist at the Audiology Centre Korle-bu, the department sees, 20- 30 children with hearing impairment every week. She bemoaned the late reporting at health facility for assessment and screening as most of the conditions reach advanced stage before reporting. She urged that, recreational environmental and industrial noises be limited to avoid the trend.
As Ghana prepares to join its counterpart in the world to commemorate this year’s World Hearing Day on 3 March, it behoves on the sector players to create programmes to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and promote ear and hearing care. Madam Jemima Fynn is of the view that about, 60 per cent of the causes of hearing loss in can be prevented if only the right measures are in place.
She cited developed countries that have access to hearing diagnostic test or screening once a child is born, he or she is tested so that the condition is detected early and rectify early so they can match their peers. But Ghana is yet to see that policy saying the draft copy is still at the same stage. Madam Fynn says the policy is key to depopulate the number of Ghanaian children at the school for the deaf in the country.
On the other hand, specialists are very limited as the whole country can only boast of less than 25 Audiologists, 3 speech Therapists, with 15 still under training. This number can only be found in cities and patients have to travel from far place before having access to care.
Cost of treatment
Cost remain a challenging factor that deter parents from getting treatment since ocular implant cost about 2000 to 3000 dollars while the hearing aid cost 2000 cedi, and it is not covered by the National Health Insurance Policy. Messie Alima is a Togolese Mother of Daniel, the 4 years old boy suffering from down syndrome as result, could not produce sound or any speech he acquired from the environment as at one and half year. Alima the accountant, have no option than to forgo her job to cater for the boy who has been battling the condition for 3 years now. The situation she says is having a huge financial toll on the family.
However, a Us based Starkey Hearing Foundation has been operating in Ghana since 2014, has helped about 2000 children and adults with the condition. Their hope is to be able to meet the needs of the increasing pace here in Ghana
But WHO says in recent years, an increasing number of Member States and other partner agencies have joined World Hearing Day by hosting a range of activities and events in their countries. WHO invites all stakeholders to join this global initiative. World Hearing Day 2019, WHO will draw attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. Many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. Checking one’s hearing would be the first step towards addressing the issue.