Treating hearing loss

FIFTY per cent of hearing loss is treatable if identified early, with screening playing an important role in achieving this.

That’s the sentiment shared by Frank Hilton Organisation CEO Sureni Perera who said the purpose of screening was to identify children with hearing loss and those at risk of acquiring a hearing loss within special schools in the country.

Ms Perera said the main issue faced was the lack of awareness on basic ear health and the importance of seeking medical attention for common, recurrent problems.

“The number of parents who did not consent their children for screening is worrying. The screening process is a noninvasive process which will determine if the child required further testing and hearing support. It will negate the need for or highlight the need for further action,” Ms Perera said.

According to her, a pilot screening project was conducted in April this year where FHO audiologist screened 144 children in three special schools in Suva.

“After which, it was evident that teachers and caregivers required more knowledge on the contributing factors to hearing loss as well as follow up and management of children identified with hearing loss,”

she said.

“Therefore, we organised a one-day workshop for representatives from all special education schools in Fiji and received participation of 30 teachers from 18 schools.”

She said when screening were conducted, it was found that tissue paper, broken cotton buds, pieces of crayon and large quantities of wax were in children’s ears.

“Some parents who were present informed us that they constantly poured coconut oil in their child’s ears to clean them,” she said.

“We were informed by the Otolaryngologists in our teams that it is very important that parents do not insert anything in their child’s ears in an attempt to clean them. They should always seek medical attention for any infections or pain the child may experience or recurrent ear infections.”

She also highlighted that parents and teachers should also have the child’s hearing tested in case language development was slower than expected or the child didn’t respond to sound or speech.

The organisation’s screening outreach projects were fully funded by the Government of Fiji through a grant.

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