Kenya is gearing up to host the first-ever Africa Conference on Deafness (ACD) in 2024, aiming to unite stakeholders from across the continent within the deaf empowerment community.

The Kenya Society for Deaf Children (KSDC), in partnership with the State Department for Medical Services, will take the lead in organizing the conference.

Harry Kimtai, the Principal Secretary of the department, stated that the conference will focus on tackling the obstacles encountered by deaf children across Africa.

“The conference seeks to take stock of the continent’s initiatives for empowering the deaf child,” he said.

While the Ministry of Health ranks hearing impairment as the fourth most prevalent disability in the nation, Kimtai emphasized that the conference will play a crucial role in formulating strategies to enhance the support network for the deaf community.

“The conference will address many issues with the main focus being on how the deaf community can be empowered and their quality of lives improved,” he said.

In Africa, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 135 million individuals experience varying degrees of hearing impairment, often regarded as a silent disability.

In Kenya, findings from the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) suggest that around 3 million Kenyans are currently grappling with hearing difficulties, with projections indicating a potential increase in this figure.

Among this group, 900,000 individuals are identified as profoundly deaf, with 300,000 falling into the school-age range. However, only 20,000 of school-going age are presently enrolled in educational institutions.