*Holds month-long free hearing screening
By Chioma Obinna
The Chief Executive Officer of the International Hearing Centre Nigeria, IHC, Dr. Irene Okeke-Igbokwe has tasked Nigerians on regular hearing checks to reduce the increasing number of hearing loss in the country.
To this end, the centre is providing a month-long free hearing screening for Nigerians in Lagos.
Okeke-Igbokwe who is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, FAAA and presently the President of the Nigerian Audiology Association, NAA, made the last week during a free hearing screening organised by the centre to mark this year’s World Hearing Day.
The IHC boss urged all Nigerians irrespective of their ages to pay special attention to their hearing status by undergoing hearing screening annually.
Okeke-Igbokwe who is also the former Director of Nigerian Army Audiological Centre said the regular screening would reduce the increasing number of Nigerians suffering from all levels of hearing loss.
“Although there are no widely acceptable studies or data on the number of people with hearing loss in Nigeria, the World Health Organization, WHO, estimation is that 1.5 billion people in the world live with some degree of hearing loss.
“Out of that number around five per cent of the world’s population or 430 million people require rehabilitation to address their ‘disabling’ hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children).
“It also projected that by 2050 2.5 billion people worldwide or one in four people will be living with some degree of hearing loss.
“Nearly 80 per cent of people with disabling hearing loss live in low and middle-income countries. Nigeria with the largest population in Africa falls into the category of low and middle-income countries.”
She explained that “IHC as a hearing health care provider for over 25 years in Nigeria is supporting the World Hearing Day 2021 by providing free hearing screening, free hearing aid checks all through the month of March 2021.
“IHC is also providing counselling on hearing health care and advocacy through seminars in all of its centres in Abuja, Enugu, Ikoyi, Port Harcourt and Yaba.”
Lamenting the increasing wrong use of earpiece from cell phones, exposure to loud noise, and ototoxic medication, she warned that Nigeria may witness an unprecedented population of people with hearing loss in the next 10 years.
She emphasised that some of the most common causes of hearing loss such as exposure to loud noise, ear infections, and ototoxicity are preventable.
Okeke-Igbokwe enumerated some of the strategies for reducing hearing loss to include annual hearing screening, newborn hearing screening, good maternal and childcare practices, genetic counselling, identification and management of common ear conditions, and occupational hearing conservation programmes for noise and chemical exposure.
Other strategies include the reduction of exposure to loud sounds in recreational settings and the rational use of medicines to prevent ototoxicity.
Okeke-Igbokwe appealed to the federal and state government to assist in promoting awareness and creating programs to prevent hearing loss across Nigeria.
She reiterated that embracing the theme of 2021 World Hearing Day, “Hearing Care For All— Screen. Rehabilitate. Communicate” will ultimately improve the quality of life for all Nigerians.
World Hearing Day is held on March 3 each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world.