Tanzania: Hearing Loss Recoverable, Experts Assure

UNDER five-year old children are guaranteed full recovery from profound hearing loss, Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) revealed yesterday, asking parents to timely take victims to hospitals.

Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist at the national hospital, Dr Edwin Liyombo said in Dar es salaam that it roughly takes one and a half years to recover, if the victim receives timely medical services.

However, full recovery depends on the victims' seriousness to attend speech therapy sessions. He was speaking when the surgeon team-composed of local and foreign ENT experts visited the ward accommodating four children, out of six who underwent ear-implant operations. The remaining two were attended soon after the (ward) trip.

"We are happy not only because the victims are on good progress but that the government also saves expenses it used to incur for taking victims abroad, particularly in India," he said, explaining: "It cost between 70m/- and 80m/- for a single ear operations and about 100m/- for both. Again, the family (child and mother/guardian) had to spend not less than three months abroad for medical procedures." At MNH, according to Dr Liyombo, it costs only 33m/- per ear and hardly 50m/- for both.

The family spend less than a week at the hospital premises before starting to attend the speech therapy three times a week for about 18 months. Commenting on the scope of the problem in Tanzania, the specialist said there is no any local study that has been conducted but overall statistics showed that in Africa, five out of 1,000 new born have the problem, be it profound or moderate.

It was further noted that only profound hearing loss victims will benefit from the surgeries at MNH and moderate sufferers will be provided with hearing-aid services. ENT specialist from Egypt, Prof Hassan Wahba appraised the job well done by local experts, revealing that 80 percent of the on-going surgeries at MNH were conducted by local experts, unlike previously when all operations were conducted by foreign specialists. "It is pleasure that Tanzanians are this competent...there is no need for foreign trips in search of deaf-related services," he said.

Asked on why only children, Prof Wahba said it is because the child's brain is naturally active to respond on speech activities, unlike the adult's, which is already stuck, unable to respond to talking (speech) or hearing practices.

A three-year old Mulhat Humud was among the surgery beneficiaries whose mother, Ms Zahra Salim, confirmed that it is possible to detect the child's hearing loss at infancy stage as it was the case for her daughter. She detected Mulhat's problem when she was three months

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