Hearing impairment is a hidden disability that many people suffer from in silence. In Kenya, it is estimated that there are 600,000 people who suffer from the impairment. However, the number is going to be reduced since at least 240 people in eight regions across the country are set to benefit from a series of free ear surgeries supported by the Safaricom Foundation. The surgeries to be conducted in partnership with Operation Ear Drop will particularly target needy children with hearing impairment that require surgery. Adults will also benefit from this exercise.
A few years back, a concern was raised over the growing number of children suffering from ear related ailments in Kenya. The OED conducted ear screening programmes in over 26,000 schools across the country, where they found that 3,000 institutions had cases of children with hearing impairments, a situation that denies them the opportunity to learn.
Speaking at Nanyuki Teaching and Referral Hospital where the second of the Safaricom Foundation funded surgical outreach took place, Safaricom Foundation Trustee Stephen Chege said the foundation had committed Kshs. 3,356,000 towards screening, surgeries and after care for ENT patients in eight regions across Kenya.
“We have already been to Kisii where 14 surgeries were done last month. The next surgical camp will be in Kisumu in December. This shows our commitment towards transforming the lives of Kenyans by improving their health status,” he said.
At least 54 people in Nanyuki have confirmed surgeries. The area was selected to benefit due to a lack of capacity for the referral hospital to conduct ear surgeries.
Operation Ear Drop Kenya Head of Medical Committee Professor Isaac Macharia said: “We continue to seek more partnerships in every outreach in order to reduce the cost per outreach and also to supplement the Safaricom Foundation Grant. The approximate cost of an outreach is Ksh. 600,000. Reducing the cost of overheads helps us save and thus reach more people.”
The World Health Organisation estimates that there are 360million people globally with disabling hearing loss. 328million or 91 percent of these are adults while the rest are children.
Immunization against childhood diseases, improving antenatal and perinatal care including promotion of safe childbirth, following healthy ear care practices and reducing exposure to loud sounds can prevent half of all cases of hearing impairment according to the World Health Organisation.