Don’t take hearing impairment for granted

A research conduct­ed on 80 per cent of the Ghanaian popula­tion by the West Africa Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) has found out that more than 200,000 Ghanaians suffer from Hearing Impairment (HI).

The researchers’ analysis has it that 60 per cent of the HI was genetically related while the cause of the remaining 40 per cent could be associated with certain environmental factors and ailments such as measles and cerebrospinal meningitis (CSM).

To help address the situ­ation, the centre yesterday launched an HI resource guide as part of activities to mark World Hearing Day, which falls on March 3 every year. (See story on page 11).

Besides, among its recom­mendations, the Centre has asked the general public to go for genetic counselling and also screening to know their status and seek help, while urging the government to, as a matter of urgency, adopt measures to reverse the trend of hearing impairment in the country.

We commend the WAC­CBIP for the good work done.

Certain conditions are taken for granted by society but have damn­ing consequences for the sufferers, so research into such areas are more than needed to help victims reverse their sufferings or, at least, manage them for fulfilled lives.

Hearing loss is said to affect a person in three main ways.

First, it reduces suf­ferers’ educational and job opportunities due to impaired communication.

Second, it causes social withdrawal due to reduced access to services and difficulties communicating with others.

Then, the last but not the least is that suffer­ers encounter emotional problems caused by a drop in self-esteem and confidence, and stigmati­sation.

Family members and close associates of the sufferers also bear some brunt of hearing impair­ment.

Such loved ones have to make time helping the patients in communicating with them and others and also make them aware of what is happening in their environments.

As if that is not enough, hearing disabilities can lead to increased tired­ness, a struggle with background noise, and a gradual withdrawal from social activities, leading to increased feelings of loneliness.

In some cases, these factors can irritate their partners and other family members and the con­sequences are obvious, especially among those who become unsympathetic with the patients.

This means families and other close associates must learn to understand the caus­es, types and management of hearing impairment in order to ensure peace and harmo­ny at home and also prevent the patients from taking to social withdrawal.

We believe the govern­ment, the family and others would make it a point to understand hearing impair­ment and show sympathy to its patients and give them the necessary assistance.

What is good about it is that it is not contagious but the patients suffer psycho­logical problems when they are mistreated because of their conditions.

Most importantly, we should seek medical screening for children and ourselves, avoid the envi­ronmental causes of hear­ing impairment, especially disturbing noise, and treat related sicknesses.

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