We would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
This has been an exciting year for the organisation with the opening of the first ever audiology clinic in Southern Malawi and the first ever Malawian Audiologists now working at the clinic. We have also provided training to six hearing instrument specialists from Cameroon, The Gambia, Malawi and Zambia. In The Gambia, alongside audiology support, we have facilitated the training of 2,000 teachers to improve access to education for children with hearing loss.
We would like to thank you very much for your continued support.
We are delighted to say that we are in the early stages of developing a basic audiology unit at The Gambia’s main government hospital, Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) which currently does not have any such service. Such a facility is desperately needed in the capital city, Banjul; the only other audiology service is at St John’s School and that is principally for students, and the HARK outreach project has a predominantly rural focus.
This project will provide the EFSTH with the right infrastructure (revamped clinic and new equipment) to deliver audiological assessment, rehabilitation and management to adults and children over the age of five, as well as provision of custom made earmoulds. The service will be led by Yaka Faal, who completed the diploma course in Zambia last year.
We would like to say thank you to Jersey Overseas Aid (JOA) for their support over the years in The Gambia.
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!
To celebrate the last day of International Week of the Deaf 2016, we want to tell you about a Zambian patient benefiting from our pioneering work in teleaudiology!
On Thursday 8th September, 9 year old Jessy from Ndola, Zambia, benefited from Sound Seekers’ pioneering work in teleaudiology. Teleaudiology can essentially be defined as improving access to audiology services via internet based platforms, for example Skype, Team Viewer and whatsapp group chat. In Zambia, we use the teleaudiology platform at Ndola Central Hospital as a means of managing difficult patients and remote mentoring and training. Our Audiology Officer, Mr Kalwa Nsenga, had struggled to get a reliable audiology assessment when he had his first consultation with Jessy. Therefore he arranged to link up with our consultant Audiologist, Shannon Kruyt, based over 3000km away in Cape Town, South Africa.
By remote testing, Shannon was able to confirm that Jessy has a severe bilateral hearing loss and can hopefully benefit from hearing aids. She was accompanied by her aunt who needed to go and check with Jessy’s parents that they were happy for her to have hearing aids fitted. Using a combination of remote and face-to-face counselling, Mr Kalwa and Shannon advised Jessy’s aunt that her niece must be really struggling to hear in the classroom in her mainstream school and therefore dropping behind; Jessy’s aunty confirmed this.
If her parents agree, we plan to fit Jessy with hearing aids in October. Again Shannon will be able to help from a distance by programming and checking the hearing aids. Watch this space for our next update!
To celebrate day four of International Week of the Deaf, we thought we would share Godheart’s story!
Godheart Kengeh is a Theatre Nurse at Mbingo Baptist Hospital in Cameroon. Cameroonian Hearing Aid Technicians, Evelyn Tenkeh Mayohni and Rephah Chia, and visiting UK Audiologist on a voluntary assignment with Sound Seekers, Amina Abonde Adigun, fitted him with a hearing aid in January 2016. Godheart explained:
“I lost the hearing in my left ear following barotrauma and was treated by a traditional herbalist due to ear pain at the age of 12. I work in the theatre at Mbingo Baptist Hospital but often mishear my colleagues when they ask for surgical instruments. This has been extremely challenging for me, especially as I work with various groups of visiting doctors every month.
The first day I was in theatre with my hearing aid, I didn’t have to be asked for anything twice. Everyone had noticed and wondered what had changed. I happily shared that I’d been fitted with a hearing aid and can now not do without it! I have new hope now that I can hear well.”
Malcolm Garner and David Couch, both members of the Project Committee, visited The Gambia at the end of August. Both are qualified teachers of the deaf and David is a qualified educational audiologist.
(David, Yaka & Malcolm with the new sign for clinic at St Johns)
Audiology Project:They met up with Yaka Faal, who did the Diploma course last year in Zambia, to provide training on the new audiology equipment that they brought out for the clinic at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital.
(Yaka Faal at work in the existing cramped polyclinic at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital)
Access to Education Project: They met with all 29 Polyvalent Itinerant Teachers together with Nancy Mendy, the Principal Officer for Special Educational Needs, to lead a training day reviewing the effectiveness and coverage of the Step-Down Training Programme.
Last year in July 2015, they provided training to equip the Itinerant Teachers to provide a deaf awareness course for teachers in mainstream schools. They also provided a lesson plan for their sessions and course materials for both themselves as trainers and for each school.
We were so pleased to hear that the Itinerant Teachers had embraced the task with real enthusiasm and, amazingly, have delivered no less than 378 separate courses in the schools they visited across the whole country, training more than 4000 teachers in the process! The session was really helpful, as it was their first opportunity to get together to compare notes and share their experiences.
(Itinerant Teachers Workshop, Access to Education Project)
(Nancy Mendy with hundreds of course evaluation sheets!)
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.