By Jessica Onyegbula
Abuja – The Federal Government has converted the Technical Working Group (TWG) on Ear Care and Hearing Healthcare to an Implementation Committee for the 2019-2023 National Policy and Strategic Plan.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who announced the upgrade in Abuja, said they would serve as the steering committee to oversee the implementation of the five-year plan.
Adewole said that ear diseases and hearing loss is prevalent globally, with low and middle-income countries accounting for about 80 per cent of hearing loss disease burden according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
He explained that the global prevalence of disabling hearing loss is estimated to have increased from 360 million to 466 million.
Similarly, the prevalence in Nigeria increased from 7.3 million to 8.5 million within a decade.
According to him, it is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people would have disabling hearing loss.
He said that currently 1.1 billion young people aged between 12 to 35 years are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings.
“Sixty per cent of cases can be prevented, exposure to excessive noise, exposure to ototoxic substances, and vaccine-preventable infectious diseases like meningitis, measles, mumps and rubella.
“The physical, social and economic impact of hearing loss on individuals, families and nations cannot be overemphasised.
“Presently, Nigeria neither has EHC policy guideline nor strategic plan to guide the activities of EHC, stem the tide of increasing prevalence drastically reduce the incidence and impact of hearing loss in Nigeria.
“This maiden edition of the National Policy and Strategic Plan, will serve as a blueprint to guide the activities geared towards preventing ear diseases and hearing loss, early detection and intervention, rehabilitation and providing support services to people living with hearing loss,” he said.
Adewole stressed that the federal government recognises the need to establish a set of core policy principles that would guide and support the activities in ear and hearing care.
”This National Policy and Strategic Plan for Ear and Hearing Care has been developed in line with the National Strategic Health Development Plan II,’’ the minister said.
NAN recalls that Adewole inaugurated a technical working group for hearing health in September 2018.
The minister noted that the group delivered timely on its mandate.