Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Professor Abayomi Somefun, has raised alarm over high prevalence of hearing disorder, disclosing that over 8.5 million of the population suffer from the problem.
Somefun identified children as the most vulnerable group to ear defects. He said no fewer than 3.5 million Nigerian children have hearing problems. “The most recent survey on National survey on hearing impairment and deafness in Nigeria shows that about 3.5 million children within the age of 0 to 15 years are affected with Disabling Hearing Impairment, DHI, while those aged 16 to 90 years account for 5 million of the burden.” Speaking at the 2016 International Conference of the Speech Pathologist and Audiologist in Nigeria, SPAAN, held in Lagos, Somefun said lack of diagnostic and rehabilitative equipment, coupled with inadequate manpower and training facilities in the country, worsen the situation. “Nigeria, with a population of over 170 million has about 250 Ear, Nose and Throat, ENT, surgeons, less than 50 audiologists, and less than 50 Speech Therapists. In the whole country, we have only 10 equipped audiological centres and they are all in private practice.” Further, Shomefun said: “Till date, where available, many centres are ill-equipped, and rarely with defined orientation toward integrating persons with disability into larger society. There is no university training programme for clinical audiologists and speech therapists in the country.” On his part, a Professor of Speech and Hearing Rehabilitation, and President of SPAAN, Professor Julius Ademokoya said while there is emphasis on universal newborn hearing screening and management in the developed world,it is not the case in Africa. “Many children in Africa continue to suffer undetected and unmanaged hearing and speech disorders. At any time later, when their disorders are diagnosed, particularly after their second birthdays, therapeutic interventions are likely to yield less result than if administered earlier. He said the advocacy to government is to establish screening centres with intervention included in the National Health Insurance Scheme.