Call to test children’s hearing

2019-03-26 06:01
Fourth-year UCT audiology students conducted a hearing screening session at Legos Daycare Centre in Grassy Park last week to raise awareness around testing children’s hearing. Here are (from left): Kelly de Freitas, Kutlwano Lekaowa, Thobani Mncwango, Yusrah du Toit, Kelly Newman, Anathi Mbambo and Ndamulelo Netshiungani.

Fourth-year UCT audiology students conducted a hearing screening session at Legos Daycare Centre in Grassy Park last week to raise awareness around testing children’s hearing. Here are (from left): Kelly de Freitas, Kutlwano Lekaowa, Thobani Mncwango, Yusrah du Toit, Kelly Newman, Anathi Mbambo and Ndamulelo Netshiungani.

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UCT audiology student Kim Newman hopes more parents will have their children’s hearing tested in an effort to limit hearing loss.

Newman, who lives in Fairways, was joined by fellow classmates Kutlwano Lekaowa and Ndamulelo Netshiungani who were responsible for managing the project at the Legos Daycare centre in Grassy Park on Saturday 16 March.

The project arose for World Hearing Day that took place on the Sunday 3 March, organised by the World Health Organisation, with this year’s theme being “get your hearing tested”.

Newman says that currently, there are over 1.2m children aged between five to 14 who suffer from a loss of hearing in both ears.

“Our government has placed a lack of priority on hearing screening for babies in our government facilities, meaning thousands of new-born babies are sent home every day unsure of their hearing status – with parents or guardians lacking knowledge regarding hearing health. New-born hearing screening has become universal, however, why not in South Africa,” questions Newman.

She does, however, reason that the phenomenon is due to many other challenges being faced such as dealing with competing diseases like TB and HIV/Aids.

“This being why it has always been seen as an ‘invisible’ disability. However, a hearing loss in children can produce a negative chain reaction and can cause problems of which include school performance, emotional difficulties, language and speech difficulties,” adds Newman.

She says many of these problems are identified too late, and the best time to intervene when a child has a hearing loss is before six months in order to reduce language and speech difficulties.

“The fact that screening services are offered in our private facilities yet not in all of our government facilities (whereby the majority of the country accesses) is a major concern and audiological service recommendation,” Newman adds.

The group tested 57 people, which included children and adults from the greater Grassy Park and Philippi area.

“The project highlighted education and prevention; whereby upon the screening, the students did a 30-minute presentation which covered essential hearing health, red flags for a hearing loss in children and ear hygiene,” says Newman.

Newman is hoping to take this beyond just an annual project and spread awareness. They will advocate for and inform people in various communities to also get their hearing tested – and become active in their hearing health.

“Duty of care was given to our patients where our goal was not to just screen but also make appropriate referrals if they failed their screener. We managed to book appointments for 10 individuals who failed our screener or who required medical assistance for possible ear infection,” she says.

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