He said, Ministry of Education, should also absorb trained audiologists of various accredited institutions as part of the educational Policies.
Speaking on the topic Audiology in Ghana and prospects at the maiden Audiology Health Conference and Exhibition in Lagos Nigeria, Dr. Offei Nyadu, said the situation where the greatest concentration of hearing centres is in the capital and urban cities is making accessibility to audiological services difficult for people living in remote and rural areas in Ghana.
Touching on some statistics, he said the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimate revealed that about 278 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing impairment and out of this figure, 70% live in developing countries while the 25% develop their hearing impairment during their childhood.
Dr. Offei disclosed that, 1 in 3 clients screened by his centre had a significant hearing loss or some other ear problems adding that, analysis of data collected during the school and community screening exercises in parts of the Central Region of Ghana (Abakrampa, Asebu, Moree, Winneba, Apam, among others) between January 2015 and June 2015, using the Hearing and Research Klinik (HARK) van show that, out of the 2000 school pupils and students screened, 3-5% of the pupils and students in regular classrooms were living with educationally significant hearing loss such as single sided deafness and mild to serve sensory neural hearing loss (SNHL).
The Genesis of Audiology
Provision of Audiological services for education purposes he noted dates back several decades, and noted that hearing screening was implemented as far back as the 1930s even though no standardized procedures were used then, nevertheless all children in the United Kingdom were screened at school entry using a pure – tone ‘sweep test’. This practice is still ongoing and has been considered very useful in identifying those children who may already have some hearing challenges identified.
Turning the spotlight on Ghana, the Audiology services dates back to the early 1970s when Andreas Markides, a Briton with Greek parentage assumed post as Director of the Deaf Education Specialist Training College at Mampong - Akuapem in the Eastern Region of Ghana. Andreas had a passion for Audiology and therefore, with just a few equipment he assessed young hearing- impaired children for placement for the Deaf in school.
The Current Situation in Ghana
Dr. Nyadu Offei said, there are about 20 public and private hearing assessment centres in Ghana. Four of these are located in special schools for the deaf and staffed by teachers of the deaf who have received basic training in early interventions with hearing impaired children at the University of Education Winneba, in Winneba, Ghana. Three of the centres are hospital based, and three others are privately owned. This means that currently, Ghana audiology services are not restricted to the hospitals. Those located in the schools for the deaf also provide resource services to regular school teachers within their localities.
Training at University of Education (UEW).
Regarding training, Dr. Nyadu Offei said there are isolated programs available at the post graduate level. For example, at the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), the Department of Special Education in 2009 rolled out an on – line Post Graduate Diploma program in Educational Audiology. Three out of the first batch of five (5) have graduated. One of them is yet to graduate and one other terminated the course mid – way in order to take a new job in Education. So far the Program he said has been evaluated; the modules were being up – dated with the collaboration of Kentalis Academy in the Netherlands. Besides this, UEW is likely to roll out on – site MSc in Audiology and Speech Therapy programs in 2016.
Training at University of Ghana (UG).
In 2011, the School of Allied Health Services of the University of Ghana (UG) rolled out an MSc in Audiology program. The first batch of students graduated in 2013. The second batches of 4 students are doing internship currently. The third and fourth batches of students are currently in their second and first years respectively for their study. The UEW is actively collaborations with the UG by way of providing staff and clinical support for interns.
Training at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
In 2013, KNUST rolled out an MSc in Audiology and Speech Therapy program. The second batch of students enrolled in 2014. Again, the UEW is collaborating with the KNUST by providing staff and clinical support for interns.
It appears that there is very scanty information about audiology service in Ghana due to handful of audiologists, audiological services and training programs available, which requires a lot of public education and awareness creation and therefore appealed to authorities to intensify public education on causes of hearing impairment and the importance of audiological services to prevent more people from suffering from hearing problems.
Mobile Audiological Services now available in Ghana, at least six mobile vans are operating mostly in deprived communities. At the University of Education, Winneba, a mobile van donated by the Rotary clubs of Llanelli in Wales and of Accra Labone is being used to screen thousands of individuals in communities in the Central and Western regions of Ghana.
The conference was attended by members of the Nigeria Audiology Association (NAA) Governors from Various states in Nigeria, officials from Babcock University, Nigeria, Chief of Army Staff, Major General T.Y Buratai, and Chief of Naval Staff Rear Adm. Ibok – Ete Ibas, Chief of Air Staff AVM Sadique Abubakar and officials from the University of Education Winneba, Ghana among others.