By Rebecca Ejifoma
The CEO, International Hearing Centre Nigeria, Dr. Irene Okeke-Igbokwe has urged Nigerians to have regular hearing checks to reduce the increasing number of hearing losses in the country.
Okeke-Igbokwe, a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (FAAA), made the call recently while addressing participants receiving free hearing screening and hearing health counseling in IHC’s centres across Nigeria as part of activities marking World Hearing Day 2021 on March 3.
Irrespective of their ages, the CEO harped on the need to pay special attention to their hearing status by undergoing hearing screening annually. This, she said, would reduce the increasing number of Nigerians suffering from all levels of hearing loss.
She cited the World Health Organisation estimates that 1.5 billion people in the world live with some degree of hearing loss, out of which around over 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).
The CEO and current President of Nigerian Audiology Association (NAA), said, “It also projected that 2.5 billion people worldwide or one in four people will be living with some degree of hearing loss by 2050.”
Okeke-Igbokwe, a Fellow Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA), claimed that 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.”
According to the IHC boss, “IHC as a hearing health care provider for over 25 years in Nigeria is supporting World Hearing Day 2021 by providing free hearing screening, free hearing aid checks all through the month of March 2021.
“The centre provides counseling on hearing health care and advocacy through seminars at its centres in Abuja, Enugu, Ikoyi, Port Harcourt, and Yaba.”
She, however, lamented the increasing wrong use of earpiece from cell phones, exposure to loud noise, and ototoxic medication, while warning that Nigeria may witness an unprecedented population of people with hearing loss in the next 10 years.
Okeke-Igbokwe outlined some of the strategies for reducing hearing loss to include annual hearing screening, new born hearing screening, good maternal and childcare practices, genetic counseling, identification and management of common ear conditions, 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.