Dr Amina Okhakhu, an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon, says the integration of ear care into Primary Health Care (PHC) services would close the care gap that currently exists in the health care delivery system.
Okhakhu, Consultant at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital, made the call during an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Benin on Friday on the occasion of the 2023 World Hearing Day.
She also advocated for the training of middle level manpower to recognize and be able to manage common ear conditions at the PHC level.
She, however, said that regulatory measures should be put in place to ensure that the middle-level manpower serves within their area of competence.
According to her, it is estimated that over 1.5 billion people live with hearing loss. This number is expected to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050.
“Hearing loss is said to be present when there is a decline in a person’s hearing acuity, and a person is said to be deaf when he doesn’t have serviceable hearing for day to day living.
“Hearing loss can be classified as mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe or profound.”
The Surgeon identified causes of hearing loss to include congenital and acquired, noting that it could be prevented by proper education of the risk factors.
“For hearing loss that runs in families, we should discourage marriage among close relatives to avoid propagation of the bad gene.
“There should be avoidance of indiscriminate drug use or abuse, avoidance of exposure to loud noise, and there should be improved antenatal services to reduce incidence of prematurity and prevention of neonatal jaundice and infections.
She said that hearing care for all could be achieved via improved budget allocation to the health sector in general, improved training of ear care manpower as well as increased education of the populace through print and electronic media.
NAN reports that the theme of the 2023 World Hearing Day, commemorated every year on March 3rd, is “Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality”. (NAN)