Women living with hearing impairment in Niger have appealed to men who are looking for life partners, to seek their hands in marriage, as the condition will not prevent them from building a healthy family.

The women spoke through their leader, Hajiya Salamatu Hammed, during the celebration for this year’s World Hearing Day on Sunday in Minna.

Hammed urged men not to neglect deaf women, saying “we are marriage materials like any other woman.”

She, therefore, called on all eligible men to feel free to approach any deaf woman for marriage, adding, “we are like any other woman who gives birth to normal children.”

She called on all tiers of government to employ interpreters at all public health institutions in the state to enable people with hearing problems have access to quality health care.

According to Hammed, “I was not born as a deaf child, but I started having problem after an operation during delivery which affected my voice. I can hear but lost my voice as a result of the operation carried out on me to bring out my baby.”

She said that none of her children have the hearing problem, confirming that those women with hearing impairment can still give birth to normal children.

In his presentation, an expert on Audiology, Dr. Sidi Maku, Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, in the state Ministry of Health and Hospital Services, lamented the neglect of persons with hearing challenges in the country.

Maku said people with hearing impairment are few but neglected, praying God to grant succour to those with the problem.

“You may not appreciate until you see someone who cannot hear, so that is why we are here to celebrate it. The deaf may not know anything happening around them,” he said.

He warned that hearing impairment can be caused by listening to loud music or slapping toddlers on their ears.

According to him, “using feathers, cotton board to clean the ears can also lead to the defect.

“Hereditary from parents is also a cause.”

The Expert said “it is possible for deaf parents to beget children without hearing problems.

Maku, who was a former Commissioner for health in the state, revealed that the state has only three active audiologists for its Ear Nose Throat ( ENT) clinic.

He added that all the three surgeons are based in the state capital.

The Medical Doctor said that over 270 million people suffer from hearing impairment globally as a result of neglects, adding that Nigeria has only 176 ENT surgeons.

He further revealed that the entire Northern Nigeria has one ENT clinic, while the other three centres are in Enugu, Aba and Kaduna.

He decried the inadequate health personnel in the sector and appealed for donations from corporate bodies and well-to-do individuals to assist persons with hearing problems.

“To purchase a hearing aid before was N300,000 but now it is about N30 million for a complete hearing aid for one person,” he said.

The event, put together by the Women Advocate for Gender Solutions and Mentorship (WAGS-M), in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO), was tagged “Changing Mindsets, Let’s Make Ear and Hearing Care a Reality for All.”

At the event, free screening exercise was conducted for ENT people and free drugs given out by the organizers.

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