World Hearing Day 2017

World Hearing Day – 3rd March 2017

The theme for World Hearing Day 2017 “Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment” highlights the economic impact of hearing loss across the globe.

Unaddressed hearing loss poses a high cost for the economy globally and has a life-changing impact on the lives of those affected. In Africa, those with hearing loss are often excluded from school. Unable to secure an education, they will have limited opportunities to secure a livelihood.

Interventions to address hearing loss include identification, treatment and prevention, and are among the strategies which Sound Seekers implements to help combat the challenges of hearing loss and its consequences in Africa.

Our work focuses on:

– Integrating ear and hearing care into existing healthcare systems

– Building human resource capacity in audiology provision and services

– Implementing early identification and intervention programmes

– Increasing awareness of primary ear and hearing care

– Improving access to education for those with hearing loss

On World Hearing Day, please follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram and help us highlight the impact of our work which enables more people with hearing loss to access ear and hearing health care, education and employment, and, ultimately, helps reduce the economic burden of hearing loss.

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Please donate what you can to help us improve the lives of more people with hearing loss in Africa – just £5 could enable a healthcare professional to provide a hearing test and £10 could provide someone with a hearing aid and batteries.

You can donate online or text ‘HEAR25 and the £ value you wish you donate’ to 70070 (e.g. HEAR25 £5 to 70070).

Sound Seekers would like to thank the World Health Organization for producing the materials to support the global hearing movement on World Hearing Day.

Case Studies 

Sierra Leone – Sorie 

It has been reported that many of the survivors of Ebola have ear and hearing complications. As a survivor of Ebola, the horror and suffering that 11 year old Sorie has endured is unimaginable to those of us far away from the fear of exposure or desolation of reality. Sorie bravely shared his story but the words don’t capture the true devastation of the Ebola Crisis or indeed the continued need for support and assistance in its wake to ensure that those like Sorie and his sister who survived have access to the health care they need. Sound Seekers works to increase access to ear and hearing care, and improve access to education for those with hearing loss whatever its cause.

Sorie is originally from Lungi near Freetown. Last year, after surviving Ebola, he came to St Joseph’s School for the Hearing Impaired in Makeni as he now suffers from hearing loss.

“We were at Lungi when my father got sick. My father died and we were taken to a camp and then my mother got sick and she also died. I too got sick and so did my sister. No one was allowed to touch us. We survived but we lost so many of our family.

When I recovered from Ebola, I couldn’t hear so I was brought here. I like coming to St Joseph’s because I had a hearing aid fitted and I can learn to write.”

Malawi – Innocent 

We first saw Innocent in January 2015 when he was 14 years old. He had severe malaria and was given IV quinine in early January 2015. Before he had malaria, his mother reported that his hearing was normal and he was performing well in school.

He was fortunate to be fitted with hearing aids just three weeks after he lost his hearing as some people in Africa have to wait years for treatment, if indeed they receive it at all. He has been doing very well ever since. His hearing was retested in February 2017 and there were no significant changes in his hearing loss. He still has a moderate to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. His hearing aids were cleaned and adjusted. We are making him new earmoulds because he has grown so much in the past two years.

Innocent said: “These days I’m doing very well in school. I really enjoy Maths and English. I can communicate well with my friends and family and in my free time I like listening to music.”

The Gambia – Ousainou & Anssa

Ten year old twin boys, Ousainou and Anssa, were referred to the audiology clinic at St John’s School of the Deaf for a consultation with Yaka Faal. They go to St Therese’s School and their teacher told their father that they weren’t responding in class. He was aware that sometimes they didn’t respond but thought they were just ignoring him. The teacher had recently been trained by itinerant teacher, Fatoumatta S. Jallow, through Sound Seekers’ Step Down Training which helps ensure teachers can identify children with hearing loss in their class and that they have the skills to include them in mainstream schooling.

Fatoumatta explained: “Before the training teachers didn’t like working with children with hearing loss because they didn’t have the knowledge or skills to do so. The training has helped overcome this and now children can be in mainstream schools because the teachers know how to identify them and understand more about how to teach them. The training has been very effective.”

Yaka screened the boys and they both have severe to profound hearing loss but they can be helped with the fitting of hearing aids and will remain at St Therese’s School.

Nancy Mendy, Head of the Special Education Needs Unit at the Ministry of Education, explains: “The Step Down Training [facilitated by Sound Seekers] enabled us to access teachers that we wouldn’t normally be able to do. The impact is not only on the teachers but on the children who now have a better environment for learning. Teachers have now been trained in 378 schools in The Gambia.

This training is essential as St John’s School of the Deaf can’t accommodate all children with hearing loss so to help children have access to quality education the teachers need the right resources and the right training. The Ministry of Education aims to have as many teachers as possible able to support children with special needs. Deafness is a hidden disability and teachers need to know the signs. The Step Down Training helps teachers identify the reasons why a child might not be participating in class or might not be keeping up and now they have the skills to take care of the needs of the child.”

Zambia – Evans

Bhavisha Parmar started her volunteer assignment with Sound Seekers as an audiologist in Zambia in January 2017. She is working at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) in Lusaka to establish Targeted Pediatric Hearing Screening and explains the benefits of play audiometry to test hearing in young children.

“Evans is a three year old boy. Due to his age, he had never been able to complete a hearing assessment but once we used the new toys (donated by Hear the World) he was able to complete a full hearing test through play audiometry. ENT Audiometricians at UTH were also taught about the skills needed to complete play audiometry and we carried out an Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) screening as a cross check of behavioural test results. His mother was very reassured to know that his hearing was within the normal range in both ears as his sibling has had hearing loss from birth, which went undiagnosed until age of seven.”

Sierra Leone – Finda

Finda Rogers is a teacher at St Joseph’s School for the Hearing Impaired in Makeni. She lost her hearing after an episode of malaria when she was 16 years old. She graduated with a BS Hons in Biological Science and later studied for a Diploma in Special Needs Education from the University of Makeni.

“In December 2000 I was sick with malaria. The hospital gave me an injection of quinine and then when I went home, my stepmother, who was a nurse, gave me another injection through a drip. A loud noise came into my head when the second drip was in my arm and since then I have had a lot of noise in my ear. It is like a generator continuously.

I continued my schooling but people wanted me to do hair braiding and stop school. My father encouraged me and my result was good at university so the government granted me a scholarship.

I had no hearing aid until I started working here in 2012. I like working with the deaf because I am deaf and I’m a very good example for the children.”

You can donate online or text ‘HEAR25 and the £ value you wish you donate’ to 70070 (e.g. HEAR25 £5 to 70070).