AUDIOLOGIST Dr Deborah Pinder, consultant with the Health Ministry, and other government officials on Wednesday raised their voices once again to warn the public about the harmful effects of loud noise.
Pinder spoke at the T&T Association for the Hearing Impaired's launch of the national awareness campaign Protect Your Ear at the Diagnostic Research Education Therapeutic Centre (DRETCHI), Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
Pinder, in her opening speech, quoted American author Helen Keller, who was born both blind and deaf, saying that blindness cuts people off from things, but deafness cuts them off from people.
Pinder said worldwide statistics show 1.1 billion people between 13 and 35 were at risk of hearing loss owing to recreational settings and given TT's culture of loudness, it was imperative to practise safe hearing techniques. With an estimated US$750 billion spent annually on treating hearing loss, Wednesday's launch, she said, particularly at Carnival, was a must.
Also addressing the gathering was deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Development Denis Williams.
Williams described the campaign, which debuted last year, as a most important initiative, as it affected the quality of life in TT, targeting some of the most at-risk in the country, those involved in the entertainment industry. He added there must be a greater educational thrust on the effect exposure to loud noise could have on hearing.
Williams said 12.5 per cent of teens between 16 and 19 and 17 per cent of 20- 39-year-olds attributed their hearing loss to exposure to loud noise.
Pinder told the gathering some of the ways the Health Ministry had been actively addressing hearing impairment. Those included immunisation against rubella which, in pregnant women, can contribute to hearing loss.
The ministry, she said, also offers ear, nose and throat services, at the regional health institutions, to those with medically treatable hearing loss.
Screening for hearing impairment is also offered to schools which, for the past ten years, have provided free hearing testing.
The audience was advised to protect their hearing by using earplugs, listening to music at lower levels and stepping away, when applicable, from loud noise.