Audiological care is very limited in Africa's developing countries. In Zambia, for example, there are only five Ear Nose and Throat specialists and one audiologist to cover the whole country. Since 2014, the Hear the World Foundation has supported the Sound Seekers project to provide audiological care on a sustainable basis. While the past years were dedicated to building up services, the future focus lies on building on existing achievements.

Place & Year

Cameroon, the Gambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone, Zambia, since 2015

Project Partners

Sound Seekers

Support

Technology Funding Knowledge

Main Focus

Children Providing audiological care for children in low-income countries is a focal area of the Hear the World Foundation’s activities.
Professional training The Hear the World Foundation supports projects that enable continuous audiological training for professionals on site.
Prevention of hearing loss The Hear the World Foundation globally promotes awareness for the topics of hearing and hearing loss and thus actively contributes toward the prevention of hearing loss.
Programs for parents & families By supporting self-help groups for parents, the Hear the World Foundation makes an important contribution, thus ensuring that affected parents receive specific help and assistance.
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Sustainable audiological care is needed in Africa’s developing countries. For children, good hearing is essential to receive an education, and thus improve their chance of escaping from poverty. Since 2012, the charitable organization, Sound Seekers, has established two audiology clinics in Cameroon and Zambia, trained medical staff, and organized placements for volunteer audiologists to provide refresher training. Last year, with the support of the Hear the World Foundation, Sound Seekers set up a training program for audiologists in Lusaka, Zambia. These well-equipped laboratories enabled Sound Seekers to provide audiological care to hundreds of Zambian patients each month. In addition to financial support and expertise, the Hear the World Foundation also supported the project through the donation of hearing aids.

Rounding up basic audiology service

This year’s aim is to build on the past achievements of the different projects. With the support of the Hear the World Foundation, Sound Seekers will finalize establishing a hospitals’ basic audiology service by sound treating the audiology testing room. Furthermore the hospital staff, in Cameroon and Zambia, will be able to make acrylic custom ear molds by providing them with the necessary training and equipment. By filling those gaps, the local teams will be able to independently provide amplification to patients, including custom made ear molds.

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Supplying hearing aids to five African countries

In 2015, Sound Seekers set up a hearing aid refurbishment project (HARP), in Lusaka, Zambia. A small team, including one profoundly deaf man, cleaned and recalibrated hearing aids collected by UK hospitals and sent them to the projects in Cameroon, Gambia, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Zambia. So far approximately 500 hearing aids have been dispatched. This year, the Hear the World Foundation provided new digital hearing aids to audiology projects in five African countries to meet the rising demand. To ensure these hearing aids will be correctly fitted, volunteers will be sent to all five countries to train the local staff.

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Refurbishing used hearing aids

The Hear the World Foundation has further supported the project in Zambia through professional expertise: Adrian Sailer, a Sonova employee, supported the HARP team in Zambia in logistics. His aim was to make old hearing aids reusable. Adrian sorted, tested and cleaned hearing aids and trained the staff to use the Phonak software . He was accompanied by his wife, a trained emergency doctor, who supported the team at the hospital. “Their engagement was highly appreciated by the whole team. Thanks to Adrian’s work, we now have an overview of the hearing aids and a more systematic process to sort, clean and test the material”, says Emily Bell, Programme Manager, Sound Seekers. Read more about Adrian’s volunteering experience.

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