early intervention for better chances
The earlier a child’s hearing loss is detected and managed accordingly, the better chance that child will have of thriving at school. This is particularly important in a country like Uganda where, with a good 50% of the population under the age of 14, the future belongs to well-educated girls and boys.
Place & Year
Project PartnersKentalis International Foundation (KIF)
The Netherlands-based Kentalis Foundation has joined forces with both a university in the Ugandan capital Kampala as well as several local hospitals and organizations to help ensure that children with hearing loss are diagnosed in good time before they are due to start school. “The first few years of a child’s life are the most critical phase in terms of language acquisition, which is why children must be diagnosed and fitted with hearing aids as early as possible,” urges Fred Marinus, who is in charge of the project.
To enable the project to develop and advance on a sustainable basis, the Dutch foundation is providing training for lecturers and staff at Kyambogo University in Kampala. They can then pass on their expertise to audiologists and teachers back in their own countries. The training focuses on early childhood development, audiological examinations and methods of diagnosing hearing loss in children. Clinic staff and technicians also benefit from courses in audiology, audiometry and earmould manufacture.
Qualified personnel are key
Unless training and further education are provided for local specialists, many efforts to provide charitable support will be in vain. First and foremost, a country where there are only 0.08 physicians for every 1,000 inhabitants is in need of qualified personnel who are able to diagnose cases of hearing loss.
Even though the Ugandan government has now introduced exemplary laws on healthcare, its enforcement of this legislation is nowhere near sufficient to provide adequate care for the country’s 26 million or more inhabitants. Nevertheless, the more well-trained audiological experts Uganda has, the better chance children will have of their hearing loss being detected before school age allowing them to realize their full cognitive potential.
“However, we must remember that hearing aids not only improve a child’s academic performance,” the project manager is keen to stress; “they provide a huge boost for their social and emotional development too.”