Stakeholders called on the Federal Government to scale up hearing loss prevention strategies given the high prevalence of the health problem in Nigeria.
The country is said to be suffering from insufficient expertise in the field with an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist serving more than a million Nigerians against the prescription of the World Health Organization ( WHO) of an ENT for 160 patients.
The President of the Otorhinolaryngology Society of Nigeria (ORLSON), Dr. Biodun Olusesi, CEO of BSA Hearing and Speech Center, Dr. Simeon Afolabi among others spoke at the pre-launch of the product Cochlear in Nigeria held in Lagos.
No less than 83 cochlear implantations have been performed over the past 10 years, mainly for hearing-impaired children.
Daily Trust reports that a cochlear implantation costs up to 6 million naira on one ear and 12 million naira for both ears.
Speaking to our correspondent on the sidelines of the cochlear presentation, Olusesi, head of the ENT department at National Hospital Abuja, revealed that five out of every 100 children born in Nigeria suffer from significant hearing loss.
He said that the cost of cochlear implantation can be reduced if the government decides to remove customs duties on the import of the medical device or grants a subsidy on the treatment as is done in some countries such as South Africa. South.
He said: “Over the past 15 years in my clinic, out of 10 hearing impaired children presented, three are said to have causes that can be treated using only a hearing aid.
“Then three others are those who have their ears discharged. They have an improvement when you do surgery for them. Then the other 10 are those with a very severe type of hearing loss that cannot be helped by a hearing aid. They are the ones who can be helped by cochlear implantation.
“So where the limit of hearing aids ends is where cochlear implantation begins. Cochlear implantation is therefore not for everyone. Even for those with severe to profound hearing loss, the cochlear implant is only recommended if we have made sure during the survey that this child has an auditory nerve because some children are born with this auditory nerve, it is i.e. just telling you that not all children are candidates for cochlear implantation. It is for those born with auditory nerves but unable to speak.
“So what the cochlear implant does is just replace the functions of the ear cells that God has positioned inside our ear that translate the movement of the eardrums and ear bones into activity. electricity that goes to the brain and allows us to hear.”
Australia’s Ambassador to Nigeria, John Donnelly, said Cochlear Company, founded 40 years ago, has developed technologies to solve the problem of hearing in children and adults.
He said cochlear has provided these implants to more than 600,000 people in more than 100 countries.
Donnelly also noted that the cost of the implant could be reduced by waiving some of the taxes paid on importing the device into Nigeria. He noted that this would go a long way in helping committed doctors to improve the hearing of Nigerians.
“There is a cost-sharing model used in South Africa where the health system pays a certain percentage for the device and the individual also pays for it,” he said.
Alain Yazbeck, Regional Director, Cochlear Middle East and Africa, said the company will continue to support the Nigerian cochlear implant community to bring the gift of hearing to children across the country.
He said the cochlear has trained 285 professionals in Nigeria in 30 courses spread across three hospitals where the implant is performed.
Dr. Simeon Afolabi, Cochlear Distributor and Secretary General, Speech Therapist and Audiological Association of Nigeria (SPAAN), said: “The cost of the implant is too high because too much goes into identifying candidates. We urge government at all levels, churches, mosques and non-governmental organizations to help more people by sponsoring their operations.