Experts Calls for Mechanism to Address Hearing, Speech Impairments

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Funmi Ogundare

Experts in speech pathology and audiology have stressed the need for Nigeria to intensify efforts towards promoting proper identification and diagnosis of communication for people with hearing or speech impairment.

They made this known recently, at the 2018 Speech Pathologists and Audiologists Association in Nigeria (SPAAN) conference with theme, ‘Better Hearing, Better Speech,’ held at the University of Ibadan (UI).

According to the Chief Medical Director, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology Teaching Hospital, Osogbo, Prof. Akeem Olawale Lasisi, there was need to raise awareness about the problem so as to overcome auditory and speech impairment.

In his paper entitled, ‘Overcoming the Policy, Manpower and Infrastructural Deficit for Better Hearing, Better Speech in Nigeria’ he noted that there should be recognition of the professions (Audiology and Speech Pathology) in the health sector and in the country in general.

A professor of the Department of Otolaryngology, College of Medicine, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Yemisi Amusa in her paper entitled, ‘Audiology and Speech Therapy Practice in Nigeria: The Past, Present and the Future’, said there must be an increase in the area of training and research in both audiology and speech therapy in Nigeria, to cope with the demands of the 21st century practice, adding that more still needs to be done in compliance with global practice.

The Social Secretary of SPAAN, Dr. Ayo Osisanya of the Audiology and Speech Pathology Unit, Department of Special Education, UI, said there is need for the establishment/ introduction of audiology and speech pathology training programmes both at undergraduate and post graduate levels in all universities.

Osisanya said: “Cases of communication difficulties should be reported early for appropriate remediation, a worthwhile scheme of service should also be put in place by the government to encourage the audiologists and speech pathologists/therapists who are practicing in the country.

“Only certified audiologists/ speech pathologists by the Medical Rehabilitation Therapists Board of Nigeria (MRTB) should be allowed to practice the profession, non-audiologists and non speech pathologists should not be allowed nor encouraged to practice the profession.”

In his keynote address, Dr. Neal Boafo, from School of Biological and Allied Health Sciences, University of Ghana, said audiology emerged as a profession in the mid-1940s when soldiers returned home with noise induced hearing loss.