Health PS calls for ban on loud music in m**atus amid rising cases of hearing impairment

By , K24 Digital
On Sat, 2 Mar, 2024 12:26 | 3 mins read
Passangers in a pimped matatu popularly known as Nganya which are known for playing loud music. PHOTO/X/@MtaaWangu)

Law enforcement agencies may soon be forced to move in to switch off the loud music being played in Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) more so matatus as it has been attributed to the rising prevalence of deafness in the country.

Various stakeholders yesterday highlighted sources of deafness in the country, and every speaker called on the government to end loud music in matatus; modified motor vehicle exhaust pipes and other sound emitting sources.

Medical Services Principal Secretary Harry Kimtai said loud music coming out of the matatus is now a major concern as the rising prevalence of hearing impairment can partly be attributed to avoidable sources, sound pollution listed as one of them.

The PS called on law enforcement agencies to move in and stop the noise menace in matatus.

“Noise-induced hearing loss is of public health concern due to inefficient implementation of rules and regulations on safety and effective noise reduction measures,” the PS said in a statement read by Manasseh Bocha - the Director in charge of Clinical Services at the Ministry.

“Noise reduction measures should not only be implemented in occupational settings but also in social and entertainment venues in order to effectively employ hearing conservation measures that cut across the life course,” the PS added.

Bocha presided over the launch of Dechi Hearing Clinic, a Level 2 health facility run by the Kenya Society for Deaf Children (KSDC) in Upperhill, Nairobi.

However, he said there is a need to scale efforts towards the management of ear and hearing care.

“The opening of this clinic cannot have come at a better time: The Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) 2022 reported a total 837,416 ear diseases in the country,” he noted.

Out of this number, 264,789 cases are for children under 5 years while 15 percent of adults above 50 years old have hearing problems.

At 6.3 per cent, translating to over 3 million Kenyans with mild, moderate, severe, or profound hearing loss, deafness has been described as alarming.

And within this population, 900,000 individuals are classified as profoundly deaf and 300,000 falls within the school-age bracket.

However, according to the Kenya Society for Deaf Children, only 20,000 of school-going age are currently enrolled in educational institutions.

Notably, according to KSDC chairman, Francis Ng’ang’a, Kenya has 141 schools specifically catering to the needs of the deaf.

“We have also established from research, that the majority of deafness and hearing loss is acquired rather than hereditary.

“This therefore means that the majority of hearing loss is preventable,” Ng’ang’a said, calling for huge public awareness of the causes and how to avoid hearing loss.

The challenges faced by the Deaf Community in Kenya have been traced to the lack of access to education; limited access to healthcare, communication barriers, lack of support services, and Discrimination and stigma.

“Despite recent heightened focus on the issue of deafness, the category has largely been plagued by under-support and under-funding with the challenges facing the deaf still largely unresolved and not in the mainstream focus of the national conversation space,” Ng’ang’a said.

Further, sign language is still yet to be scaled while many of the children are still unable to attend school.

"The Kenya Society for Deaf Children is mandated to address this,” KSDC Chief Executive Officer, Rhoda Kabiti, stated.

Stakeholders called for the exemption of importation duty of hearing aid equipment that resulted in the high prices of Ksh67,000 for a single patient.

Three Members of Parliament present during yesterday’s event; Esther Passaris (Nairobi), Dorothy Muthoni (Nominated) and Abdul Rahim Dawood (North Imenti), vowed to push a motion at the floor of the National Assembly seeking to have Parliament approve the reduction of import duty on the hearing equipment.

Kimtai endorsed KSDC's appeal for support towards funding the scaling up of ear clinics across the country, describing it as a noble venture of acquisition of mobile ear clinics.

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