For Online E-newspaper
The East African : Mar 9th 2015
The EastAfrican OUTLOOK MARCH 7-13,2015 D E VE LO PME N T Earphones: 1b young adults risk hearing loss WHO studies show that teenage≥s and young adults aged 12-35 yea≥s a≥e exposed to unsafe levels of sound By CHRISTABEL LIGAMI Special Correspondent A bout 1.1 billion teenagers and young adults are at risk of hearing loss due to the unsafe use of personal audio devices, including smartphones, and exposure to damaging levels of sound at noisy entertainment venues such as nightclubs, bars and sporting events, the World Health Organisation has warned. Data from studies done in middle- and high-income countries and analysed by WHO shows that among teenagers and young adults aged 12-35 years, nearly 50 per cent are exposed to unsafe levels of sound from the use of personal audio devices and around 40 per cent are exposed to potentially damaging levels of sound at entertainment venues. Unsafe levels of sounds con- sist of exposure to an excess of 85 decibles (dB) for eight hours or 100dB for 15 minutes. “More and more young people are putting themselves at risk of hearing loss,” said Etienne Krug, director ofWHO’s Department for Management of Noncommunicable Diseases, Disability, Violence and Injury Prevention. Safe listening levels depend on the intensity or loudness of the sound and the duration and frequency of listening. Exposure to loud sounds can result in temporary hearing loss or tinnitus, which is a ringing sensation in the ear. When the exposure is particularly loud, regular or prolonged, it can lead to permanent damage to the ear’s sensory cells, resulting in irreversible hearing loss. WHO recommends that the highest permissible level of noise exposure in the workplace is 85dB up to a maximum of eight hours per day. Many patrons of nightclubs, bars and sporting events are often exposed to even higher levels of sound, and should therefore reduce the duration of exposure. For example, exposure to noise levels of 100dB, which is typical in such venues, is only safe for less than 15 minutes. Protect hearing Young people can protect their hearing by keeping the volume down on personal audio devices, wearing earplugs when visiting noisy venues, and using carefully fitted, and, if possible, noise-cancelling earphones/ headphones. They can also limit the time spent engaged in noisy activities by taking short listening breaks and restricting the daily use of personal audio devices to less than one hour. With the help of smartphone apps, they can monitor safe listening levels. In addition, they should get regular hearing check-ups. Governments also have a role to play by developing and enforcing strict legislation on recreational noise. To mark International Ear Care Day, celebrated each year KEY FACTS 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss. Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise and ageing. Half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable through primary prevention. ove≥ 5 pc of the world’s population (360 million people) has disabling hearing loss (328 million adults and 32 million children). Disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear in adults and a hearing loss greater than 30dB in the better hearing ear in children. The majority of people with disabling hearing loss live in low- and middleincome countries. Approximately one-third of people over 65 years of age are affected by disabling hearing loss. The prevalence in this age group is greatest in South Asia, Asia Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa. Source: WHO 2015 UNSAFE LEVELS Unsafe levels of sounds consist of exposure to an excess of 85 decibles (dB) for eight hours or 100dB for 15 minutes. EFFECTS: Safe listening levels depend on the intensity or loudness of the sound; the duration and frequency of listening. Exposure to loud sounds can result in temporary hearing loss or tinnitus, which is a ringing sensation in the ear. When the exposure is particularly loud, regular or prolonged, it can lead to permanent damage to the ear’s sensory cells, resulting in irreversible hearing loss. More and more young people are putting themselves at risk of hearing loss.” Etienne Krug, WHO on March 3, WHO is launching the Make Listening Safe initiative to draw attention to the dangers of unsafe listening and promote safer practices. In collaboration with partners worldwide, WHO will inform young people and their families about the risks of noise-induced hearing loss and advocate for governments to pay greater attention to this issue as part of their broader efforts to prevent hearing loss in general. Worldwide, 360 million peo- ple today have moderate to profound hearing loss due to various causes, such as noise, genetic conditions, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs and ageing. It is estimated that half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable. To address this issue, WHO collates data and information on hearing loss to demonstrate its prevalence, causes and impact as well as opportunities for prevention and management; assists countries to develop and implement programmes for hearing care that are integrated into the primary health-care system and provides technical resources for training health workers. 37 Kenya to ban p≥inting of b≥and names, t≥adema≥ks on ciga≥ette packets By JEFF OTIENO The EastAfrican THOUGH KENYA is yet to meet all the World Health Organisation recommendations on tobacco control, the country is intensifying its efforts to tighten the noose on tobacco business. Recently, the Ministry of Health published the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2014, which will effectively ban cigarette manufacturers, distributors and importers from printing brand names or trademarks on cigarette packages and wrappers from June this year. Instead, the packages will carry health warnings and pictograms on the front and back. “A person shall not manufacture, sell, distribute or import a tobacco product for sale in Kenya, whose packaging carries a name, brand name, text, trademark or pictorials or any representation or sign that suggest that the tobacco product is less harmful to health than other tobacco products,” the regulations said in part. The pictogram will be printed in colour, contrasting with the background to ensure visibility, while the health warning messages will be printed in black and white. The health warning message on the front of the package will be printed in English while the one in the back will be in Kiswahili. The regulations, published by Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, say the health warnings and messages should be printed on both the wrapper and the packet. Tobacco companies have criti- cised the regulation, saying public participation was missing in the formulation process. “Contrary to the Kenyan Con- stitution, this provision seeks to restrict and/or ban public participation. WHO’s Framework Conven- tion for Tobacco Control (FCTC) Article 5.3 itself is clear that its implementation must be in accordance with local laws,” said a statement from tobacco companies. No health benefit Though not opposed to the intro- duction of pictorial health warnings, the companies said it was unfair for the Cabinet Secretary to impose high costs on manufacturers with no corresponding public health benefit. “It is our belief that there is no evidence showing a reduction in smoking rates in countries that have enacted pictorial health warn- 2014 ings, illustrating that such graphics are not effective at promoting cessation,” the companies said. WHO has been pushing African countries to come up with strict tobacco control laws saying smoking is responsible for the increase in chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer. In adults, cigarette smoking causes heart disease and stroke. Studies have also shown that early signs of these diseases can be found in adolescents who smoke. To make the tracing process easi- er, the new regulations require that cigarette packets contain a batch number that will help determine the place, manufacturing date and country of origin. “A manufacturer shall, upon re- The new measures can be found in the Tobacco Control Regulations, 2014 quest, provide the Cabinet Secretary with information to enable him to interpret the code marking on a tobacco product,” the new regulations say. The above requirement is in ad- dition to the Tobacco Control Act of 2007, which requires manufactures to submit to the ministry information on the toxicology of the ingredients and leaf used in the manufacture of the products. The companies criticised the Cabinet Secretary, saying he is not empowered to create criminal offences and sanctions beyond those in the Tobacco Control Act of 2007. They also criticised the regula- tions, describing them as repressive and calculated to criminalise the industry and anyone associated with it. Mr Macharia said that, in future, tobacco laws would also focus on the social, economic and environmental impacts of tobacco farming. As a result, the Ministry of Agri- culture will also be required to help come up with economic alternatives for tobacco farmers, to help them abandon the crop.
Mar 1st 2015
Mar 16th 2015