Global Humanitarian Hearing Health Care Efforts

October 8, 2013 • Fall 2013, Newsletter

The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified hearing loss as a serious worldwide health issue and estimates that more than 300 million people in the world have significant untreated hearing loss. Global humanitarian audiology efforts are aimed at bringing improved hearing health care to developing countries throughout the world.

Projects include:

  • medical services, especially to children susceptible to ear infection;
  • audiologic services, including the fitting of hearing aids;
  • hearing aids, often supplied at no cost by manufacturers;
  • training to local residents to provide sustainable hearing care services;
  • audiologic equipment in areas that have trained personnel;
  • educational and vocational training opportunities for children and adults with hearing loss;
  • promoting awareness and efforts for the prevention of hearing loss.

Audiologists, hearing aid specialists and physicians volunteer their time and expertise travelling to countries around the world on humanitarian audiology missions, often at their own expense. Many foundations, associations and manufacturers around the world support these efforts.

For example, the International Hearing Foundation funded three international projects in 2012. Hear The World Foundation, sponsored by Phonak, supports projects in Cambodia, Kenya, Malawi and Thailand. The Oticon Hearing Foundation funds hearing clinics in Xanthia, South Africa and Parintins, Brazil, that provide audiologic testing services and hearing aids to previously unserved populations. The Starkey Hearing Foundation has donated more than 500,000 hearing aids and direct services in more than 25 years of global humanitarian services in locations such as New Guinea, Tanzania, Laos and Guatemala. The Rotary Foundation supports local Rotarians around the world to provide hearing care and other health services.

Many of these cases of hearing loss are preventable, with causes such as ear infection, impacted ear wax, and infectious diseases such as rubella, meningitis, measles and mumps. Almost all are treatable medically or through the use of: hearing aids, but with more than 300 million children and adults in the world at with hearing loss, the vast majority remain undetected and untreated.

Copyright 2013 Hearing Healthcare News

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