Hearing loss a nightmare for financially struggling Ugandans

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John Kabwiso (wrong names), a sixth grade student at Kabaale Primary School in Budatemwa village, Kamuli district, last Wednesday woke up with an anomaly in his left ear. He could barely hear through her and to this day he relies on her right ear.

“At first when I pulled it I could hear, but it finally stopped and I became half deaf. We have tried to make a diagnosis but we cannot afford the costs, it is too expensive, ”he said.

In just a week, Kabwiso says his life has become a “total mess” because “people have to speak louder or shout for me to hear, which has cost me a number of friends. My life is becoming a misery.

“I lose friends every day, even though there are some who always want to be there for me. I fear that when we go back to school it will affect my studies as well as my whole life, ”he said.

Kabwiso was among 100 and over hearing impaired patients who came to the free hearing loss services of the Kampala Audiology and Speech Center (KASC) to access the free screening service made available to the public on Wednesday, March 3 – World Health Day. ‘hearing.

John, another patient, was said to have been in an accident on December 17, 2020 when he was hit by a bicycle that knocked him into a trench.

“I had a headache, but luckily the man who hit me is a surgeon at Naguru hospital, so he offered me free services. I’m happy to have come back to life but so far I can’t hear very well like I used to and that’s why I’m here today, ”he said.

Over 20 goalies who have interacted with ChimpReports have noted that life has become difficult for them as their people can barely function compared to their healthy counterparts.

“Having a deaf person to take care of is definitely a big challenge, especially when these people were doing well before. I realized that hearing loss leads to so many other problems, for example my brother has lost his balance. I want to call on the whole population to take an interest in knowing their hearing status because it is one of the most expensive and difficult conditions to manage, ”said Sam Mugoya, one of the goalies, at ChimpReports.

“We need more awareness on the ground to let people know that this is a serious problem. Most people ignore these procedures and only a few institutions treat such illnesses, ”he added.

The severity of hearing impairment

Dr Phiona Kamya, senior audiologist at KASC, said that between 800 and 1,000 hearing loss patients are registered at KASC every month, including: toddlers, children and adults who are screened and rehabilitated.

This indicates that the KASC registers between 96,000 and 120,000 cases each year.

Globally, 1.5 billion people (10%) live with some degree of hearing loss, of which an estimated 430 million people need rehabilitation services for their hearing loss, according to the published World Health Report 2020 March 2 at the head of the commemoration of Wednesday.

The report predicted that 2.5 billion people worldwide (1 in 4) will live with some degree of hearing loss by 2050, when at least 700 million of them will need access to health care. ear and hearing and other rehabilitation services unless action is taken.

“Our ability to hear is invaluable. Untreated hearing loss can have a devastating impact on people’s ability to communicate, study and earn a living. It can also have an impact on people’s mental health and their ability to maintain relationships, ”said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Celebrated under the theme: Screening, Rehabilitation and Communication, Dr Kamya noted that their main goal is to prevent hearing loss “and that’s why we encourage people to come for screening so that they know their status and you have the disease, we find ways to manage it ”,

Dr Phiona Kamya (L) delivering her remarks at the event.

“Sometimes you can’t prevent it because people are arriving late, so we have to rehabilitate them and help them. We are currently screening children, newborns because at three years old, a child should be able to speak, which is why we are targeting young people and children in school. We are also targeting sensitive populations as there are people due to their jobs who are more likely to suffer from hearing loss such as; soldiers, industrial workers, DJs, musicians among others, ”said Dr Kamya.

To save the next generation, especially those born with hearing loss, said Dr Kamya, KASC has partnered with MED-EL Medical Electronics to provide cochlear implants that are placed in the ears of children and adults. to allow them to pick up the sound.

Cochlear implants are a hearing system that is given to patients with “severe to profound hearing loss, made up of two parts; an external part – the audio processor placed behind the ear and an internal part, which is implanted by a surgeon.

Nathan Nanjaya, the representative of the MED-EL country told ChimpReports that their main goal is to detect hearing impaired children at an early stage.

“If this child, especially before the age of 3, receives the cochlear implant, he will be able to live a normal life like any other,” he said.

A hearing aid

The program which was rolled out in 2017, Nanjaya said, only benefited 15 people with fewer than five patients per year, due to its high cost.

“To get the implant, the surgery and rehabilitation cost 15,000 USD (Shs 54.6 million) and it is because the government does not levy taxes on medical equipment, but it would amount to more than 20 000 USD (Shs 72.8 million) “, he said.

Speaking to the press, Clémence Bitanihirwe, a private speech therapist who partnered with KASC at the event, called on the government to consider prioritizing hearing loss and subsidizing some of the equipment.

Clemence Bitanihirwe (L), a private speech therapist speaking to reporters on Wednesday.

“The doctors specializing in these diseases are there but there is no equipment and that is why some of us are even in the private sector, the government should consider recruiting us as well as purchasing equipment for that we save people, ”she said.

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