UP prof uses tech to help South Africans protect their hearing

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in just more than two decades this number will exceed 2.5 billion.

FILE: People continuously using headphones and plug-in earbuds at high intensities and loud volumes are being warned to be mindful of the major risks. Picture: © Andriy Popov/123rf

CAPE TOWN - Audiologists are reminding South Africans to take better care of protecting their hearing as over one-and-a-half billion people globally suffer hearing loss.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in just more than two decades, this number will exceed 2.5 billion.

And just less than 10% of people globally have access to treatment.

University of Pretoria Professor of Audiology, De Wet Swanepoel has stressed that people should be more aware of the dangers of exposure to very high sound volumes:

"Those people who need treatment like hearing aids and other amplification devices currently are close to half-a-billion people and by 2050 it will be close to a billion."

Swanepoel and a team of experts have turned to technology to make healthcare more accessible.

This is especially beneficial in Africa where less than 1% of those affected by hearing loss have access to treatment:

"By leveraging and capitalising on digital technology, mobile operators that have really spread across the continent, but at the same time using advanced technologies including artificial intelligence to support diagnosis of ear disease, we’ve been able to really scale access in a way that has never been possible previously."

People continuously using headphones and plug-in earbuds at high intensities and loud volumes are being warned to be mindful of the major risks, as an estimated one billion youngsters are at risk of noise-induced hearing loss.