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Expand NHIS to stem growth of hearing loss in Nigeria, Don urges FG

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A professor of Otorhinolaryngology, Prof. Akeem Lasisi, has called for the expansion of National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to stem the growth of hearing loss in Nigeria.

Lasisi made the call while delivering his inaugural lecture entitled: Genes, Jinns, Jimx and Peter’s Trial: Untangling the Deafness Knots” on behalf of Faculty of Clinical Sciences, University of Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Lasisi is a professor of Molecular Epidemiology of Ottis Media and Hearing Genetics.

According to him, there is also the urgent need to include hearing screening for all newborns in NHIS.

The don also called for provision of basic facilities for the diagnosis of hearing loss.

“Presently. most of the gene sequencing methods are sourced from foreign countries.

“Hence there is the need for the establishment of a multi-disciplinary molecular genetic laboratory, especially in Ibadan, to blaze the trail of cutting-edge research in Nigeria.

“I strongly recommend that the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Health, should give serious consideration to the strengthening of the Nigerian National Hearing Policy,” he said.

Lasisi further stated that identifying hearing loss in infants and young children at early stage would give them the greatest chance of effective rehabilitation.

The medical expert, also the pioneer Vice-Chancellor of Federal University of Health Sciences, Ila Orangun, advocated for the establishment and strengthening of National Committee on Ear and Hearing to formulate the national hearing policy.

“This will create strong advocacy and bring pressure to bear on the policymakers and/or government to take into consideration the needs of deaf people in policy formulation.

“There is the need to synergise with the Nigeria National Association for the Deaf and the Nigerian Advisory Council for the Deaf so that they can make significant impacts on the condition of services for the deaf,” he said.

Lasisi, in the lecture, analysed the afflictions and trials of the petrous bone, which housed the ear.

He spoke on the high prevalence of hearing loss, especially in the first year of life, the risk factors of suppurative otitis media and its tendency to result in life-threatening complications.

“Our studies have revealed the particularly high prevalence of ear infections in the first year of life and documented the immunologic and nutritional biomarkers that are involved.

“I have documented the high prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus in our elderly population and emphasised the poor access to hearing aid among our hearing impaired.

“Our study is the first to document the genes involved in congenital hearing loss in Nigeria and also established that our genetic variants are different from what has been documented for Europe and America,” he said.

Lasis said that the research would continue in collaboration with University of Iowa to further explore genetic variants on the  congenital deaf population. (NAN)

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