According to the World Health Organization, chronic ear disease and hearing loss affect up to 3-4% of people in the sub-Saharan region of Africa. Within Ethiopia, this equates to 2-3 million people who may suffer from chronic ear infections and hearing loss that go unseen and untreated. Hearing loss can lead to communication problems in children which, in turn, adversely affects their behavioral, social, and emotional development. People with a hearing disability can be denied education, work, and other opportunities that would yield self-supporting and contributing members of society.
There are many factors specific to Ethiopia that result in this health burden. Poverty, prevalence of infectious disease, and malnutrition are just a few. HIV, meningitis, malaria, tuberculosis and even the medications used to treat
illness, such as those used for malaria, can result in hearing loss or deafness.
Remarkably, a vast majority of the causes of hearing loss can be prevented.