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Curses, myths hinder Maa community from seeking medication for hearing challenges

 Judy Pere, Kajiado County CEC in charge of Public Service (centre), joins other residents of Magadi to celebrate this year's World Hearing Day held at Magadi town on March 3, 2024. [Peterson Githaiga, Standard]

Ear and hearing-related challenges remain rampant among the Maasai community, this emerged today during celebrations to mark World Hearing Day in Kajiado County.

Ignorance, misinformation, myths and traditional barriers among other beliefs were cited as some of the factors hindering members of the community from seeking medical attention.

Most people, it was heard, attribute ear and hearing problems to curses.

However, according to Winnie Karai from Naisho Hearing and Speech, a non-governmental organisation, it was possible to change the mindset through advocacy and capacity building. 

Speaking in Magadi in Kajiado West sub-county where the celebrations were held, Karai decried how most locals shunned conventional treatment due to pervasive myths and beliefs surrounding the condition.

She decried that when people developed discharge from the ears without receiving urgent medical care, the condition normally deteriorated into severe infections followed by growths in the ear leading to hearing loss and balance.

''We are here today to enlighten our people about this disease, we want to tell the parents not to neglect their children who might be suffering from the disease," noted Karai.

Kajiado County Executive Committee member in charge of public administration and social services, Judy Pere, assured that the devolved government is reaching out to different organizations in a bid to eradicate the hearing challenges.

According to her, ear, nose and throat (ENT) diseases have shot up over the years, and the county government had come up with strategies to contain them.

''Our big burden today is how to control stigma among our people. We have a big number of people living with disability in our county, we are also trying to encourage the parents to take them to school and not to neglect them'' said Pere.

She asserted that many of the diseases can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care.

“These are diseases of great economic importance and we need to invest as a country and put a lot of effort to ensure that we address ear-related diseases," said Pere.

According to the Ministry of Health, half the hearing loss cases can be prevented with early intervention.However, this has been impracticable as Kenya is also faced with a shortage of specialists to diagnose ear problems.

Statistics by the World Health Organization indicate that over five per cent of the world’s population, which translates to 430 million people, require rehabilitation to address their ‘disabling’ hearing loss. Of these, 34 million are children.

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