LAHORE: The International Ear Care Day was observed at the University of Health Sciences (UHS) on Monday with the aim to create awareness among the masses regarding care, importance and sensitivity of ear and ear-related diseases.
Society for Audiological and Developmental Ailments (SADA) organised a seminar and an awareness walk at UHS in this regard.
Punjab Minister for Social Welfare Haroon Sultan Bokhari was the chief guest on occasion, whereas the SADA president and consultant audiological physician at Services Hospital, Dr Afzal Alam, UHS Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr Junaid Sarfraz, King Edward Medical University’s professor of ENT Dr Manzoor Basir Pal, Children’s Hospital Lahore Chief Audiologist Dr Fauzia Saeed, noted columnist Orya Maqbool Jan, students of medical students and parents of children with hearing loss were present on occasion.
While addressing the seminar, Haroon Bokhari said the government was taking practical steps to make special persons part of the active society and special attention was being paid to the education and training of children with hearing loss.
He assured the participants of the seminar that the government would extend vigorous cooperation to NGOs and other institutions for the rehabilitation of disabled persons.
Dr Afzal Alam said that prevalence of hearing loss in Pakistan was 7 to 8 per 1,000 live births, and this rate was increasing every year. He added that there were 300,000 deaf people in Pakistan.
He further said that according to WHO estimates, around 300 million people worldwide had a hearing impairment, and this number could increase to 900 million by 2025. He added that cousin marriages, infections during birth, lack of oxygenation at the time of birth and poor access to the basic treatment needs of the mother and child were associated with hearing disorders of various forms.
Dr Afzal further said that although a majority of the people facing acute hearing loss problems could be treated completely through surgeries and medication after proper and accurate diagnosis, there was a need for greater awareness to save the people from disability by taking preventive steps.
He said the market rate of the hearing aid varied widely – from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000 – which was out of the reach of a majority of the people with hearing loss.
“Moreover, children or adults with very severe to profound hearing loss will be unable to hear well even with hearing aids. In such cases, cochlear implant may benefit. However, these implants are very expensive and may cost Rs 1,500,000 to Rs 2,200,000,” Dr Afzal said, adding that a large number of the people had no option but to wait for a helping hand.
Dr Afzal noted that during the past 10 years, there had been only 1,000 cochlear implants in Pakistan, whereas in the United States, there had been more than 300,000 implants during the last 5 to 8 years.
Orya Maqbool Jan stressed the need for creating awareness among the people in order to understand true sentiments and emotions of the deprived segment of society. He emphasised the need of strengthening the family as an institution, calling it a causative and curative factor in our society.
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