The World Hearing Day (declared by the World Health organisation (WHO) in 2015) commemoration for 2020 was held on March 3rd in Goodhope under the theme “HEARING FOR LIFE: DON’T LET HEARING LOSS LIMIT YOU”. Hearing loss continues to affect millions of people world-wide, invariably impacting on their quality of life. According to the 2017 WHO report on prevention of deafness and hearing loss, 360 million people across the world live with disabling hearing loss. The report indicates that most vulnerable of this population are children and older adults who compromise 30% and 50% of the 360 million respectively.
When welcoming the guests Barolong paramount chief Kgosi Lotlaamoreng II, indicated that as a tribe they are delighted that the day is commemorated at their sub-district. He urged the government to bring more events. The commemoration started with Dr Bengole Johas of District Health Management Team (DMHT) informing the gathering about the objectives of the celebration. He said the objectives are to raise public awareness on prevention of deafness and hearing loss, promote ear care and hearing health, promote timely and effective provision of interventions of ear care and hearing, to reduce the impact of hearing loss and deafness in communities and lastly to ensure that burden of hearing loss is reduced in those with hearing loss such that they are not affected socially, psychologically and economically. “If they are not affected socially, psychologically and economically, this will be the way to improve their quality of life so that they are able to achieve their fully potential”, said Dr Jonas.
For her part Tshepiso Mhapi who gave a motivational speech urged the people to treat people with hearing loss as equal being. She said that she lost her hearing in 2012. As years progress, her hearing started to deteriorated. “I went to Ramotswa where I was assisted with hearing aid. If you are using hearing aid please avoid sun and loud noise”, said Mhapi. She also advised people living with hearing loss to follow check- ups given by the doctors religiously. She lambasted the Goodhope sub-district social welfare department for failure to assist her despite the medical practitioner’s advises. “I have letters from doctors which asked them to assist. I have followed them on numerous occasions with no success,” she stated.
When giving keynote address the Assistant Minister of Health and Wellness who is also Boteti East legislator Hon Sethomo Lelatisitswe, said deafness and hearing loss are irreversible and have no cure. “This means that affected persons therefore have to face a life time of diminished hearing ability which has devastating effects on economic opportunities such as education and employment, psychosocial status such as withdrawal tendencies due to inability to participate in communication, emotional consequences such as lowered self-esteem, and reduction in quality of life,” stressed the Assistant Minister. He stated that it is upon that back drop that prevention of deafness and hearing loss requires a comprehensive, collective and a multi-sectorial in delivering targeted interventions that will not only reduce suffering, but will also ensure reduced costs of managing conditions at a later stage.
Lelatisitswe said, “I therefore urge different sectors of our economy to promote ear care and hearing health particularly in schools, work places, leisure areas, and in the use of personal audio devises such as smart phones”.
He also indicated that the country has attained some outstanding milestones. According to the Assistant Minister, the country has commenced the development of hearing screening and assessments guidelines in schools, with their implementation expected to commence in 2020/2021 financial year. “Audiology clinics were also established in the vicinity of Tuberculosis (TB) sites in 2010 at Sekgoma, Letsholathebe, Nyangabgwe, Princess Marina and Mahalapye to ensure timely and effective monitoring of induced hearing loss with a focus on the prevention of which so far has been a success”, he added.
He also indicated that combating deafness and hearing loss particularly among the school going population will ensure that these conditions do not interfere with their learning abilities. He also told the congregation that his ministry is embarking on screening for hearing loss in all districts starting with the Goodhope DMHT area. “The current screening which entails identifying those with hearing loss, referring those who need further care, and lifting hearing aids to all those who require them targeted standard seven (7) pupils in all primary schools in the district”, he further elaborated. He said initiative is part of the implementation of the National School Health Policy and the National Health Rehabilitation Policy which are both at their final stages of development. He also said that National Health Rehabilitation Policy has a specific component on the need to identify children with impairments and development delays early for early intervention. In conclusion he said, “I wish to emphasise that deafness and hearing loss are preventable and avoidable especially in non-congenital cases”.