Deafness in the developing world
According to World Health Organisation estimates:
278 million people worldwide are deaf
80% live in low and middle-income countries.
They may be deaf because of:
• complications during pregnancy
• childhood illness
• accidents or trauma
• ear diseases which could be easily treated in the UK
• infections like meningitis, measles, mumps, cerebral malaria
• inherited deafness and age related deafness (although this is a tiny proportion compared to the UK).
Hearing is the key to a child’s ability to develop. The most important sounds we hear are speech. Some deaf people can hear some sounds, while other hear no sounds at all. In these income poor countries then hearing aid provision is not an option. This makes it very difficult to learn to speak and so the major problem deaf children face is with communication.
In the developing world being deaf means you are unlikely to go to school, and if you do go you will not have a teacher who understands how to communicate or teach you. We have discovered that typically in these countries, 70% of deaf children do not attend. Of those that do, the majority drop out because they face discrimination and lack of achievement, so only 1% finally graduate.
Superstitions about curses and witchraft are common, often affecting 40% of the population including parents, teachers and health visitors.
Deafness is often overlooked in development programmes because it affects a relatively small group of people and because it is so little understood.Top