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Director wants FG to advance audiology practice


Lagos – Dr Irene Okeke-Igbokwe, Director of the Nigerian Army Audiology Centre, Yaba, Lagos, on Friday urged the Federal Government to advance programmes that would elevate audiology practice in the country.

Okeke-Igbokwe told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that audiology is a branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders.

She spoke with NAN against the backdrop of the ongoing military offensive against insurgency in the North-East which has predisposed many Nigerians to hearing loss following heavy artillery fire.

She said that audiologists are experts in the nonmedical diagnosis and management of disorders of the auditory and balance systems and specialised in preventing hearing loss.

Okeke-Igbokwe said that hearing loss could occur suddenly but usually developed gradually.

“The general signs of hearing loss can include difficulty in hearing other people clearly and misunderstanding what they say by asking people to repeat themselves.
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“Several million Nigerians fall within the projected five per cent of the world’s 360 million which the World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies with disabling hearing loss.

“The statistics are significant, a large percentage of those with such high level hearing loss are not only in Africa but very well could be Nigerians.

“The current state of hearing loss is further exacerbated by the day by the ongoing counter insurgency war in the North-East, causing many more people to become afflicted with loss of their hearing.

“Before Boko Haram insurgency, people have been suffering from hearing impairment caused by noise pollution, blaring of vehicle horns and accidents,’’ she told NAN.

“I wish we can key into the American Academy of Audiology tenets which promotes audiological practice according to nest clinical methods for making decisions regarding diagnosis.

“Treatment and management of persons with hearing and balance disorders are based on the integration of individual clinical expertise and pre-eminent research evidence.

“The challenges are that proliferation of quacks has virtually taken over the practice as hearing instruments are now sold in the open markets like mobile phones.’’

Okeke-Igbokwe said that other challenges included limited direct patient access to audiologists, poor consumer awareness of audiology and emphasis on the sale of products versus provision of service.

According to her, there is also the problem of hearing aid dispensing competition from big-box companies and threats to audiology autonomy from physician groups.

“We may have to emulate and adopt a few things from the American Academy of Audiology, especially their membership qualification, ethics and certification.

“The purpose of certification is to identify and formally recognise audiologists who continue to enhance their knowledge, skills and abilities through advanced training,’’ she said. (NAN)

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