World Hearing Day 3 March 2016

“Sixty percent of childhood hearing loss is preventable; when unavoidable, appropriate interventions help to ensure that children with hearing loss reach their full potential,” says the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Eden District Municipality’s Radio Operator, Ms Suenell Atkinson, with her new hearing “gadget”.
Eden District Municipality’s Radio Operator, Ms Suenell Atkinson, with her
new hearing “gadget”.

World Hearing Day was this year commemorated on Thursday, 3 March 2016 with the theme: “Childhood hearing loss: act now, here is how!”

This aim of the campaign is to draw attention to the fact that the majority of causes leading to hearing loss in children, can be prevented by means of public health measures. According to the WHO, persons with hearing loss can benefit greatly from early identification and suitable, timely interventions.

What causes hearing loss in children?

  • Genetic factors,
  • Conditions at the time of birth,
  • Infections,
  • Disease of the ear,
  • Noise,
  • Medicines.

Why is early detection important?

Early identification of hearing loss in children when followed by timely and appropriate interventions, can minimise developmental delays and facilitate communication, education and social development. Hearing screening programmes for infants and young children can identify hearing loss at a very young age.

Eden’s Radio Operator, Ms Suenell Atkinson, shared her story with the Communication Unit about her background relating to her hearing challenges:

“When I was younger, I was very anti-social. I’d rather kept myself busy with reading books and filling in word puzzles. In class, I always made sure that I sat in front.  My first operation took place when I was 5 years old. After several operations, the hearing of my right ear improved. My left ear was the problem. I was born without a hearing bone on the left side. In 2013, I got an operation where Dr Hamilton took one of my nerves from my body to implant it in my ear. In June 2015, he also implanted a hearing bone.  In July 2015, I got tested by an audiologist. My hearing did not improve.  Further in January, this year, I got tested again and the results got worse. Dr Hamilton and I decided that the hearing aid will be the only solution for me. So in February 2016, I got my hearing aid. I can hear clearer now, although at work and home I always answer my telephone at the right-hand side.  I was a bit sceptical at first to what my colleagues and friends would say about my new gadget, but I decided that I’m going to do what is best for me. I didn’t want to go through more trauma by being hopeful to hear after all operations, which then turned out to be unsuccessful.  My sister, Sharonese Atkinson-Moos, just said the other day: ‘Now we can’t gossip about you anymore because you hear everything now.’ We just laughed about it.  My family was the best support system I had during this testing time.”

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