Update on our project in Zambia where we are screening primary school children for hearing loss in Ndola District with our HARK vehicle (provides mobile audiology services to remote and rural areas).
Thanks to the support of the People of the Island of Jersey, we began a project this year improving infrastructure at two mainstream schools with deaf units in Zambia and supporting targeted outreach screening to mainstream primary schools within the Ndola District to enable the early identification and treatment of hearing loss amongst children in Grade 1 at mainstream schools.
The project is underway and we are pleased to share photos from the recent outreach visits to Primary Schools in Ndola, including at Chilengwa, Chitetekelo and Kaloko Primary Schools and Daycare Special School for children with learning disabilities.
Using our HARK Vehicle, the Audiology team from Ndola Central Hospital are providing weekly outreach visits to screen children in mainstream schools within Ndola District for hearing loss in Grade 1 (also accompanied by Optometrists to screen for vision-related problems). Up to 187 children have been screened for hearing loss at each school.
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.”
Our Volunteer Paediatric Audiologist in Zambia, Bhavisha Parmar, tells us about the first hearing aid fitting for 8 year old Emmanuel, at the newly established Children’s Hearing Clinic in Lusaka, Zambia.
“Since I arrived here in Zambia in January so much work has gone towards creating a clinic to assess the hearing of children at risk of hearing loss and providing the necessary hearing aid fittings, follow up and rehabilitation. Since the Children Hearing Clinic’s opening in June 2017, I have been inundated with patients, questions about hearing loss/ear health and I have now seen 40 patients for audiological assessments. As I sit here now, in what used to be a storage unit, I am overwhelmed at the response and the interest and I just hope it continues to grow as we raise awareness of the impact of hearing loss.
“Today marks the beginning of International Week of the Deaf. Today is extra special as I completed this clinic’s first hearing aid fitting. Emmanuel Mubiana is 8 years old and struggling significantly in grade two of primary school. His parents heard about this clinic and made an appointment as it was becoming increasingly difficult to communicate with their son. Emmanuel was very shy and reserved and getting bullied at school as a result. I assessed Emmanuel 2 weeks ago and found he had a bilateral moderate to severe sensorineural hearing loss, his parents assume this was from birth. Today he was fitted with bilateral digital hearing aids from the hearing aid refurbishment programme (HARP) and he was able to have a conversation with his father without the help of lip-reading for the first time.
“My work since January was meant for moments like today. Emmanuel enjoyed learning how to use his hearing aids and the family understood that this is the start of a new journey for them. They will be back to see me in two weeks’ time for a follow up appointment to check Emmanuel’s progress. It is wonderful to see a project come together and I am really enjoying the day to day clinical life here in University Teaching Hospital’s first audiology department”
John’s Story: Watch new video from our work in Zambia
On Day One of International Week of the Deaf (18th to 24th September 2017) , Sound Seekers are delighted to launch a new video, thanks to our Volunteer Tim Ringger from Sonova and The Hear the World Foundation who helped tell John’s story.
Watch the incredible moment when John, aged 88, gets his hearing back.
Meet John Kaonga from Zambia. He is 88 years old and has 12 children and too many grandchildren to count. John used to work on the farm but is now at home with his family and enjoys gardening at home. John had difficulty hearing for the past year, but didn’t seek any medical help. He relied on lip-reading to understand his family, and people often had to shout to speak to him. His 22 year old grandson heard about the Audiology Services at Ndola Central Hospital in Zambia, established by Sound Seekers. He brought his grandfather in to have his hearing checked.
John had his hearing tested by Anita Lungo, whose training as a Hearing Instrument Specialist was sponsored by Sound Seekers in 2016. This was the first time John had his hearing tested. He was diagnosed with severe sensorineural hearing loss in both ears. Within the same morning, Anita was able to take impressions, make ear moulds, and fit and test John with two new hearing aids, donated by Hear the World Foundation. John was amazed he could hear again and said:
“I am very happy and I can now talk to my grandchildren. Now I don’t feel jealous that other people are talking and I was unable to take part in the conversation.
“I can’t believe this!”
Before Sound Seekers’ support there were no audiology services in Ndola. There is a now a fully equipped audiology clinic and an ear mould lab within Ndola Central Hospital, and two trained Hearing Instrument Specialists to deliver much needed ear and hearing health services. The audiology services at Ndola Central Hospital also include a HARK vehicle (Hearing Assessment and Research Clinic) which provides mobile outreach services to remote and rural areas. This year the HARK is focusing on weekly outreach visits to primary schools in Ndola District to screen children for hearing loss. In addition, we have trained 96 community workers in Primary Ear and Hearing Care (PEHC) in Ndola where PEHC training and awareness has been delivered in local schools and health centres.
Sometimes it only take a little to make a huge impact.
Please help change the lives of more people like John.