It is always fantastic to hear updates of how communities have benefited from the projects in which we have run over the years. We would like to share you the story of a six year old child from Mbayani, Malawi, Frank Geofrey.
Frank was seen at the QECH Audiology on 12th September 2017. His results revealed a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss bilaterally. Frank was then recommended to get hearing aids and after having fitting on a pair, Frank managed to grasp various sounds as he was being tested. He was clapping away and laughing as his mother looked on joyfully.
Frank then came in later today (18/10/17) for a hearing aid review. He looked enthusiastic and his mother had just informed us on how she has seen a great change in Frank as of recently. She went onto tell us on how Frank was able to explain to her what he had learnt at school every day.
Having seen how her son has benefited from our services, she has stated that she would recommend QECH Audiology Clinic to anyone who would reap the same benefits.
“Your Services has greatly helped my son. My son is benefiting a lot from school than before. I am a happy mother today and I know my son will get educated and be someone tomorrow”
We are pleased to share a new case study from Malawi. 67 year old Sarah Mhango was first seen at the audiology clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital (QECH) in March 2017. Sarah had perforations in both ear drums and had problems hearing since she was a child, which has worsened over time. After antibiotic treatment, the infection was cleared. Sarah was diagnosed with moderate to profound mixed hearing loss in her right ear and severe to profound mixed hearing loss in her left ear. Sarah was fitted with refurbished hearing aids from our Hearing Aid Refurbishment Project in July 2017 by Chikondi, one of the first Malawian Audiologists sponsored by Sound Seekers.
Since receiving her hearing aids, Sarah’s life has greatly improved.
“I am so excited to be able to hear at church and especially at weddings. I can sit anywhere in church and still hear the sermon. I love to tell my friends about what I have heard each Sunday at church. I have been telling everyone at church that if they are having a hearing problem or any problem with their ears that they need to go to QECH’s audiology clinic.
“Go to Queens when you feel there is a problem with your ears even when they have a hearing loss. Don’t neglect it and leave the problem for a longer time.”
She even mentioned that she was getting her blood pressure checked at the hospital and she was chatting with a woman next to her whose son was having a problem with ear infections. She told her that she needed to bring her son to the ENT or Audiology Clinics for assistance.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful methods of spreading information in Malawi. This patient was so pleased with the service she received she is taking every opportunity to share the information so that others that need the services will seek it out.
Jenny Buckley is our new Volunteer Teacher of the Deaf in Malawi. Jenny will be in based in Blantyre until June 2018 as the technical lead for the education component of the Comprehensive Audiology Services in Blantyre, where she will train Itinerant Special Needs teachers on the inclusion of children with hearing loss in mainstream schools and basic awareness on Primary Ear and Hearing Care.
“This is a time of first’s for me, my first trip to Africa, my first long haul flight by myself, my first encounter with catching a connecting flight and my first volunteer placement to mention but a view. I am grateful for the opportunity and will continue to go with the flow and enjoy each moment.”
Chisomo is a 6 year old girl from Bangwe which is just outside of Blantyre. She has a twin sister named Chikondi. Both were born infected with Yellow Fever, and they spent several months in Kangaroo Care until they were healthy enough to go home.
Chisomo’s father Joseph reports that he believes Chisomo has hearing loss since she was born. She has normal development except her speech was delayed. Her father mentioned that Chisomo’s grandmother was born with hearing loss and never spoke.
Chisomo and Chikondi are in the same class at school where Chikondi is performing very well. While Chisomo is struggling, having behavioural issues and is quite shy – all of these issues could be related to her hearing loss.
She was diagnosed with a moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. Yesterday, on the 20th of February, she was fitted with two hearing aids that were donated by Hansaton Hungary and brought by a visiting ENT team from Budapest. Chisomo was very excited to get her hearing aids and was giggling at the new sound of her voice.
We are looking forward to hear about from Chisomo next month at her follow-up appointment.
Prescort is 19 years old and attends Chigumukire Primary School. Most children are between 11 and 12 years old in his class. He has been unable to advance in school because he continues to fail the final exam. He also has other disabilities including epilepsy and he has a moderate sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. He was fitted with hearing aids in June 2016 by Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital Audiology (QECH) and Arizona State University’s Hearing for Humanity at the Mwayi Trust Community Centre. He returned for a follow-up appointment in September 2016.
“Even though I lost one hearing aid, I was so excited to have even one hearing aid because now I can hear my friends and I can hear in school. I received a new hearing aid and earmould. I was advised about caring for the new hearing aid I received and will keep both my hearing aids safe. Now I’m getting older I won’t be able to complete school. However, I’m on the short-list to be admitted to the new vocational training programme at Mwayi Trust Community Centre where I can train to be a chef, a tailor, a carpenter or a housekeeper.”
Prescort was also given batteries at his follow-up appointment and advised to return to the Mwayi Trust Community Centre (MTCC) to replenish his supply of batteries as needed. MTCC was given a supply of batteries by QECH Audiology that were donated by Hear the World Foundation to be dispensed to all those wearing hearing aids in the community. The vocational programme should be opening in January 2017 and Prescort may be part of the very first class of graduates. We hope his new hearing aids will help him succeed in any profession he chooses!
Yankho is a 4-year-old boy who had ear infections in both ears essentially his whole life but has never received treatment. He was seen on a HARK outreach in Blantyre, as his mother heard about our outreach from his school at Andiseni Primary.
He was very scared and didn’t want anyone to look in his ears. Kent (ENT/Audiology Officer) gave him the otoscope to hold, and demonstrated how it works. Kent has managed to mop the infection from both ears, and prescribed him with antibiotics and pain reducers.
Our HARK team will be returning for another outreach to check on his infection and test his hearing to determine the best way to move forward.
“Since my arrival at the audiology clinic at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi at the end of May 2016, I have spent my first month getting acquainted with the clinic and staff, going on outreach to community centers outside of Blantyre, and immersing myself in the world of newborn hearing screening. I partnered with an engineer who has been staying in the same lodge as me to come up with a way to reuse the disposable ear phones that are made for our newborn hearing screen equipment. Together we designed a reusable device to hold the ear phones on the newborns’ heads. The engineer drew up designs to give to the wood carvers in town, and we had a local tailor sew some straps out of chitenje fabric, which can easily be washed. I cut ovals out of foam to give some cushion and flexibility between the wood and the baby’s head to account for head shape differences.
Our office manager brought her 6-month-old baby, Theodore, into the clinic to trial our earphone contraption. He was quite the good sport about the whole thing and everything fit perfectly. We are now ready to produce another few sets in preparation for our newborn hearing screen program.
Over the next week or so, I will continue researching the best way to go about setting up a newborn hearing screen program in Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital. The next step is to write and submit a research proposal so we can publish the data we gather on our newborn hearing screen program. The hope is that publishing an article on this process will contribute to the future of the newborn hearing screen program at QECH, as well as adding to the body of research about newborn hearing screen programs in Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing areas of the world.”
Julia Swayne is in the last year of her audiology doctorate at A.T. Still University in Arizona. She is completing her fourth year audiology externship with Dr. Caron at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre, Malawi. She will be here until May 2017. She is very excited to develop our targeted newborn hearing screening!