The Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) has called on government to resource existing hearing, screening and assessment centres across the country, including those in schools for the deaf, to make them more efficient and effective.
According to the association, this would ensure that children of school going age have access to early screening for identification of hearing loss for early interventions.
The Executive Director of GNAD, Mr JuventusDuorinaah, said this in an interview with the Ghanaian Times in Accra yesterday as GNAD joined the world to commemorate the World Hearing Day (WHD).
The World Hearing Day is a global campaign celebrated on March 3 each year to disseminate information and encouraging people to take steps to improve hearing care and avoid hearing loss.
This year’s celebration is on the theme; ‘To hear for life, listen with care.”
According to Mr Duorinaah, it is estimated that one in three deaf children missed out of education during the first four years of schooling, which he said would have negative implications for their future development.
This, he said, could be mitigated through early screening, which was crucial in identifying children for early and effective interventions.
He said per the 2021 Population and Housing Census, 470,737 people have some degree of hearing loss, explaining that out of the number, 385, 794 have some difficulties, 65,495 have lot of difficulties whiles 19,448 cannot hear at all.
“This group constitutes a significant proportion of the population, but the figure could be higher due to the stigma associated with hearing loss, many people do not disclose their hearing loss,” he added.
Mr Duorinaah was of the view that a large number of people have not been screened for early detection for appropriate intervention because the service is not available to them.
The Executive Director of GNAD stated that over 80 per cent of children who have varying degrees of hearing loss in Ghana either are not in school or do not have access to specialised teacher.
He also mentioned that they did not also have appropriate interventions such as Ghanaian Sign language.
“As we join the international community to observe the World Hearing Day, the Ghana National Association of the Deaf (GNAD) wishes to re-echo World Health Organisation’s warning that hearing loss, if not identified and addressed early, can have far-reaching consequences.
“This may include adversely impacts on language development, psychosocial well-being, and educational attainment,” he said.
Mr Dourinaah said existing evidence has shown that hearing loss affects the educational attainment of deaf children of school going age in Ghana.
He indicated that negative societal attitudes and prejudices towards individuals with hearing loss affects their disclosure of hearing loss, seeking for medical intervention and discouraging investment of families in the development of such individuals.
Mr Dourinaah also called on the National Council on Persons with Disabilities to expedite action towards the re-enactment of the revised Persons with Disability Act, (Act 715) and enhancing access to and use of Ghanaian Sign Language services.
BY JEMIMA ESINAM KUATSINU