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Improve ear health in drug-resistant tuberculosis

21.09.2021

Tuberculosis is widespread in Zimbabwe. The growing number of patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis is an additional challenge for the weak health care system.

Patient undergoing audiometry to screen for possible side effects of DRTB treatment. Cordelia Kunzekwenyika

Until 2020, the treatment of drug-resistant tuberculosis was carried out with the help of injectables. One of the drugs used is "Kanamycin", which can lead to hearing loss as a severe side effect. Affected persons are then dependent on hearing aids or, in more severe cases, hearing prostheses. Thanks to the acquisition of an audiometer by SolidarMed, it has been possible in the past two years to carry out screenings of the hearing performance of patients with drug-resistant tuberculosis before, during and after treatment. This audiometric monitoring has made it possible to detect damage to the inner ear caused by the drug at an early stage, to adjust treatment and thus to prevent long-term hearing damage.

Patients who had already experienced hearing loss despite a change in treatment were fitted with hearing aids. Staff training was provided to enable them to adequately monitor patients and perform audiometric examinations. Training for selected health care staff helped to ensure that hearing aids were not only fitted to patients' ear canals, but were also checked at regular intervals to ensure that they were adjusted according to any improvement or deterioration in hearing.
of hearing.