Tanzania is a large country in central East Africa with a population of around 40 million people. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and, order even in towns, treat access to education, medicine health and social services is very limited.
Infectious diseases such as meningitis, measles, mumps and chronic ear infections, which are common among children suffering poverty and malnutrition, are a major cause of childhood deafness in the developing world; if a baby or young child is deaf, early detection and response is crucial for the development of speech and language. However, in Tanzania many people live far away from a health clinic or doctor, and medicine is not free of charge.
Deafness can impose considerable social and economic burdens on individuals and their families and communities. Hearing impairments may delay the development of language and cognitive skills, resulting in learning difficulties for school pupils; for adults, the disabilities associated with deafness can make it difficult to find and keep employment. In addition, deafness, along with other disabilities, is often seen as a source of shame for families in Tanzania. This increases the chances of isolation for young deaf people. These burdens tend to fall disproportionately on the poor, because they are less able to obtain preventive and routine care, or treatment to make the condition manageable.
In Tanzania, although educational provision for children with disabilities is improving, only a small proportion of profoundly deaf children have places at schools and special units that can meet their needs. Tanzanear has an ambition for Buguruni School for the Deaf, working with UMIVITA, to become a centre of excellence for deaf education in Tanzania, eventually promoting education to reduce cases of acquired deafness, which affects many current pupils at the school.