On World Hearing Day 2018, March 3rd 2018, The World Health Organisation (WHO) draws attention towards the anticipated rise in the number of people with hearing loss across the world with the theme “Hear the future”. In particular, drawing attention to the:
- expected rise in prevalence of hearing loss globally over the coming years
- efforts that are required to stem the rise through appropriate preventive action
- need to ensure that people with hearing loss have access to the required rehabilitation services and the communication tools and products they require.
WHO estimates in 2018, over 466 million people live with disabling hearing loss. It is predicted that by 2050 nearly one in ten people will have hearing loss. Two thirds of people with hearing loss live in developing countries where access to audiology services is usually limited or non-existent.
Sound Seekers delivers practical solutions to enable people with hearing loss in Africa to realise their rights and gain access to healthcare and education.
To celebrate World Hearing Day 2018 we want to share with you Shine’s heart-warming story to demonstrate the impact of our work and to ask for your help to continue our work.
Shine is three years old and had her hearing assessed for the first time last November at the new Children’s Hearing Clinic in Lusaka. Her mother brought her to the clinic due to her delayed speech but she did not realise this could be linked to hearing loss. She was first assessed by Sound Seekers Volunteer Audiologist, Bhavisha Parmar.
Bhavisha Parmar is a Paediatric Audiologist from the UK, who volunteered for Sound Seekers for a year in 2017, and is now a Special Advisor for Sound Seekers. Bhavisha set up the first Children’s Hearing Clinic in University Teaching Hospital in Lusaka last year. This is the first paediatric clinic of its kind in Zambia, which is fully equipped to assess the hearing of children at risk of hearing loss and provide the necessary hearing aid fittings, follow up and rehabilitation. Since Bhavisha left, the clinic is being led by local staff at University Teaching Hospital, and the newly training local Audiology Technician sponsored by Sound Seekers.
When Shine was first assessed, there were no risk factors for hearing loss in her medical history so Bhavisha proceeded to perform play audiometry (a technique used to test hearing of young children to respond to sounds as part of a game). The results confirmed Shine has severe Sensorineural hearing loss in both ears, normal tympanograms and absent otoacoustic emissions.
Impressions of her ears were taken to make custom ear moulds and she was fitted with brand new hearing aids (donated to Sound Seekers from Hear the World Foundation). Shine’s reaction to the sounds around her surprised Shine’s mother and Bhavisha, as Shine immediately tried vocalising to hear her own voice. Bhavisha told us:
“Shine’s name can be used to describe her smile as she was definitely a shining light in our clinic that day”
You can watch the moment Shine has her hearing aids fitted here:
Bhavisha taught Shine’s how to use the hearing aids and she was booked in for a follow up appointment to review Shine’s progress.
When Shine returned for her follow-up appointment at the Children’s Hearing Clinic, Shine’s mother was extremely pleased with her progress and has become very confident with inserting the hearing aids and switching them on and off.
Thanks to the Sound Seekers and Hear the World Foundation’s donated hearing aids, Shine has hearing aids that even light up to alert her mother that the battery is running low, which she is really pleased about. Shine’s mother explained to Bhavisha that Shine points at her hearing aids as soon as she wakes up and gestures that they need to be put in her ears. Data logging on the hearing aid software at her follow up appointment showed that Shine had been wearing the hearing aids for 11 hours per day! Bhavisha was thrilled about this:
“I high fived her mother as soon as I saw that she had been wearing her hearing aids for 11 hours every day since her fitting!”
When Bhavisha was examining the hearing aids and connecting them to my computer she felt a nudge from little Shine, making it very clear she just wanted them back in her ears! Aided testing showed she was getting great benefit from the hearing aids and she was very vocal in the clinic and even left saying “bye bye”.
We look forward to sharing news of Shine’s progress in the future.
“My time volunteering in Zambia for Sound Seekers has been amazing and being able to help bring out the shine in Shine has been one of the best moments”.
You can find out more the people we are supporting: https://www.sound-seekers.org.uk/who-we-help