Ear infections on the rise in Kenya

June 20, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 20 – A local Non-Governmental Organisation has expressed concern over the rising number of children suffering from ear related ailments in the country.

Operation Ear Drop (OED) Chairperson Chimmy Olende said on Saturday that although the exact figures are not known yet, visits to various learning institutions across the country have revealed an alarming rise in the number of these cases.

“The statistics are yet to be computed but our experience in a number of schools is chilling,” she said before flagging off this year’s UUNET Ear Walk event, which seeks to raise funds for operating on children with hearing problems.

Since 2001, OED has conducted ear screening programmes in over 26,000 schools across the country, where they found that 3,000 institutions had cases of children with hearing impairments, a situation that denies them the opportunity to learn.

It is estimated that five percent or three million people in Kenya have hearing impairments. The cost of treating ear conditions is one of the biggest challenges facing people with such problems.

This is because a single ear operation costs between Sh20,000 and Sh30,000 which is out of reach for many Kenyans.

During the function, Mrs Olende appealed to the government and corporate organisations to donate towards ear operations in order to arrest the situation.

UUNET Marketing Manager Kenneth Kareithi said they are targeting to raise Sh6 million to subsidise corrective surgery for 500 children and purchase hearing aids for 1,500 others.

“We realise that there are many children who need hearing operations and its an area that has been neglected for quiet a long time so this year we are hoping to organise at least six outreach camps around the country,” he disclosed.

He said that they hope the event which is in its third year will become a self-funding initiative that helps thousands of children access treatment in future.

“Our long term goal is to enable this to become an initiative where even without support from OED or UUNET, it can become an event that can grow, into an event where every year we can target a particular number of needy children who can get the ear operation,” Mr Kareithi said.


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