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Why over 25 per cent of Nigerians suffer hearing loss, says Profant


Deaf manAs MED-EL launches affordable implant solutions

Renowned professor of Otorhinolaryngology, Milan Profant, has blamed late diagnosis of diseases and hearing-related defects and diseases as the main reason for the high population of Nigerians with mild to profound hearing loss.

Profant said environmental causes notwithstanding, hearing loss are often genetically-related and often becomes problem when undetected from infancy, when there is high likelihood of been corrected.

Profant, who spoke at the launch of MED-EL hearing implant solutions in Lagos, explained that the problem is not exclusive to Nigeria but a lot of countries have improved the condition with early diagnosis and prompt intervention.

He observed that deafness, the highest point of hearing loss, has a high prevalence of 500million people around the world. Among them are newborns or young children that were born deaf or developed deafness in childhood and have problems developing speech. Others are the generation of the elderly that are gradually losing the hearing and this is a very severe problem for the quality of life.

According to him, “In European statistics, one out of a thousand newborn is deaf. This is a very high number. Here, due to cultural and family traditions, the prevalence will be even higher.

“The reason for deafness is very often unknown, but if you do regularly genetic testing, the majority of this hearing loss problem (70 per cent with genetic reasons) can be tracked,” he said.

Profant, who is the Secretary General of International Federation of Otorhinolaryngology Societies (IFOS), added that another problem for the ear, nose and throat experts (Otorhinolaryngologists) is that 90 per cent of deaf children are born to parents who have no such problem.

“That means nobody expects this problem. And for this small baby, as mother, you hardly can recognise whether he can hear or not. That is why we have to bring this information very next to parents that they have to follow the reaction of their child to sound or we have to do some screening of hearing. And this will bring us to some early diagnosis and intervention.”

He said further that the coming of MED-EL, a global leader in affordable implant solutions, to Nigeria gives him a sense of joy, particularly for “the newborns and children, even when born with deafness, they have a right to develop as hearing children.”

“If we bring the sounds very early into their brains, they will be able to develop speech as normal hearing children. This is the reason why this activity is not just to put something into the ear, but also to diagnose the problem early.

“We have to screen newborns so that we can recognise the problem very early, lets say first or two days after their births; we can do that. Then, we can come very early to some solutions, let’s say implant if they need it at the age of two years. This is the best age for implantation,” Profant said.

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