COVID-19: International  Hearing Centre offers free screening

Says Covid-19 pandemic has further isolated many with hearing loss

By Chioma Obinna

To mark this year’s World Hearing Health Month, International Hearing Centre, IHC, Nigeria has begun free hearing health checks across its five centres in the country even as it stated that COVID-19 has isolated many with hearing loss.

Hearing Health Month is commemorated every May to raise awareness about communication disorders and available treatment options that can improve the quality of life for those who experience problems speaking or hearing. 

Briefing journalists in Lagos, the Chief Executive Officer of the International Hearing Centre, IHC, Nigeria, Dr. Irene Okeke-Igbokwe, who is also a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology, AAA, said the organization was offering free hearing screening, free counselling on prevention of hearing loss and free hearing aid check as part of activities to mark the month in Nigeria.

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Okeke-Igbokwe who is also a certified Audiologist by the American Board of Audiology, ABA, and former Director of Nigerian Army Audiological Centre said although the offering of these services free of charge has been an annual practice of IHC every month of May, this year’s activities were necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resultant wearing of face masks which has also heightened levels of anxiety, social isolation and other mental health-related effects among people with hearing loss in the country.

Noting that the theme for this year was “Communication and Hearing care is Still Essential in our Virtual World”, she said the exercise which began since May 2, 2021, would run throughout the month in all its centres in Abuja, Enugu, Ikoyi, Port-Harcourt and Lagos.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of wearing masks have made life doubly difficult for people with hearing loss. The use of face masks is known to adversely impact on aspects of communication and this has created unique challenges for hearing-impaired people who may be put at a greater communication disadvantage than those with normal hearing”.

“Often people will compensate by reading lips and may not realize or acknowledge the hearing loss but the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the difficulties faced by people with hearing and speech deficiencies in communicating,” she explained.

She called on all Nigerians irrespective of their ages and occupations to utilise the opportunities offered by the organisation across its centres to check their hearing health status and obtain the necessary correctional fittings where necessary.

Okeke-Igbokwe emphasised that some of the most common causes of hearing loss such as exposure to loud noise, ear infections, and ototoxicity are preventable. She also enumerated some of the strategies for reducing hearing loss include annual hearing screening, newborn hearing screening, good maternal and childcare practices, genetic counselling, identification and management of common ear conditions, and occupational hearing conservation programmes for noise and chemical exposure.  Other strategies include the reduction of exposure to loud sounds in recreational settings and the rational use of medicines to prevent ototoxicity.

She appealed to the federal and state governments to assist in promoting awareness and creating programs and necessary environments to prevent hearing loss across Nigeria.

 Vanguard News Nigeria

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