The Federal Government has been urged to establish a Universal Newborn Hearing Screening, UNHS, programme that would ensure that newborns are subjected to screening for all parameters of human function ability, particularly to ascertain the child’s hearing status. Making the call in Lagos, a group of speech pathologists and audiologists worried over the rising incidences of hearing loss despite improvements witnessed in medical education.
They called for establishment and adoption of screening programmes in all hospitals across the country to facilitate detection of hearing loss in children and undertake necessary intervention to correct the malady early in life.
In his views, President of the Speech Pathologists and Audiologists Association in Nigeria, SPAAN, Prof. Julius Abiola Ademokoya, noted that in the US where UNHS is already adopted, the programme has made it possible to detect very early and proffer necessary interventions for newborns who have hearing loss.
He said outcomes of the programme showed that when children with profound hearing loss are provided with early interventions, they can develop speech as possible and be placed in regular schools for future education instead of special schools. “Audiological Centres should also be set up to screen youths and adults for those who have progressive hearing loss or acquired hearing loss.
“Such Centres should be maintained by qualified audiologists and stocked with appropriate audiologic facilities. There should also be subsidy for hearing aids, cochlear, implants among others. The cost of purchasing them is expensive and many who cannot afford them have resigned to their fate,” he added.
Speaking, Dr Simeon Afolabi who said wrong medication and accidents are common causes of hearing loss while calling for proper public education to reduce the incidence. “The hearing programme is effective in developed countries, but we haven’t established anything in Nigeria. We need to have new born hearing screening programmes so that we can have access to a newborn hearing status, and this will reduce the incidence of hearing loss.
“It will help to institute early intervention for children with hearing loss and we can easily integrate them into the society if it’s discovered early.