No fewer than 360 million people across the globe are said to be living with hearing impairment out of which 8.5million are Nigerians.
The Director of Global health and Research, Starkey Hearing Foundation, Dr. Luqman Lawal, said this on Saturday at the Legacy Hall, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, while fielding questions from journalists at the sideline of hearing healthcare training.
The training was organised by Starkey Hearing Foundation in collaboration with Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation.
Starkey Health Foundation is a US-based Non-Governmental Organisation.
Lawal also noted that the incidence of hearing impairment was further heightened in the country due partly to lack of adequate number audiologists and access to healthcare.
He said, “Part of the reason we are working in Nigeria and other countries is that there is a lack of statistics on the majority of people that have hearing impairment.
“The last survey that was done and which wasn’t epidemiological study states that an estimate of about 8.5 million people in Nigeria are suffering from hearing impairment which I believe is underestimated.
“So I will implore our government especially Ministry of Health to partner with Organisations like Starkey Hearing Foundation to see how they can do epidemiology study that will give objective assessment on problem of hearing impairment in Nigeria.”
The medical expert expressed regret that Nigeria and other developing countries did not prioritise treatment of hearing diseases as done in the cases of malaria and tuberculosis and other communicable diseases.
He said the NGO had established partnerships in 52 countries and helped over one million people with hearing impairment all across Sub- Saharan Africa, South East Asia, Latin America and the Middle East.
A Professor of Audiology, Dr Heather Jensen, who lamented the dearth of audiologists in Africa, said, “there is one audiologist to one million people in Africa.”
She also said ageing, medication, noise, among others, were causes of hearing loss, arguing 80 percent of these cases had no access to hearing healthcare and professional audiologists.
Ogun State Commissioner for Health, Dr Babatunde Ipaye, admitted that Nigeria lacked hearing professionals and equally failed to prioritise campaign on hear treatment.
Ipaye, however, promised that Governor Ibikunle Amosun-led government would as part of its healthcare delivery promote hearing treatment.