BUJUMBURA December 2nd (ABP) – On the occasion of the scientific day of audiology of November 26, 2021, the specialist in ENT, Dr. Léonard Bivahagumye made a presentation on the national hearing health policy in Burundi to make public actions already carried out in relation to hearing health.
Dr. Bivahagumye indicated that there is a report that defines the concept of integrated and people-centered ear and hearing care. That report proposes a set of scientifically-based interventions and measures to integrate that care into health systems. It also indicates the cost of implementation and expected returns on investments.
The ENT specialist also reported that WHO has set a global target of 20% increase in effective coverage of ear and hearing care interventions by 2030. It will be measured using three indicators of benchmark for newborn hearing screening services in the population, the prevalence of chronic ear disease and untreated hearing loss in schoolchildren, and the use of assistive technologies hearing loss in hearing-impaired adults.
According to this report, a monitoring framework is being developed to report on these indicators and progress against the global target. Dr. Bivahagumye added that WHO has established the Global Hearing Forum which is a global network of hearing care stakeholders.
Regarding hearing health in Burundi, that ENT specialist specifies that hearing health is a concern of the health system insofar as health promotion had been included as a component of the 2019-2023 strategic plan of the integrated national control program against chronic non-communicable diseases (PNILMCNT). The specific objective was to reduce the frequency of deafness in the general population by 1%.
According to Bivahagumye, that objective should go through the integration of hearing care in health facilities. It should also involve building the capacities of hearing health care providers by developing community actions in hearing health and making invasive and non-invasive rehabilitation tools available. Participation in regional forums on hearing health and ear care, as well as the designation of a national focal point on hearing health and deafness should be included in this objective.
Regarding the challenges, Dr. Bivahagumye said that the hearing health sector faces problems of insufficient equipment, human resources, including few doctors specializing in ENT, no hearing aid acousticians, no speech therapists. He did not fail to point out the existence of a hearing health policy, a health system committed to hearing health, committed care providers as well as the existence of an audiology center since December 2020.
He also indicated that the WHO has drawn up an outline of actions and health policies are called upon to be inspired by them in order to adapt them to local contexts. There is also a need to promote hearing health by the Ministry of Public Health and its partners.