For the first time the Hear the World Foundation supports an aid project with the donation of cochlear implants. In February 2017, three children with profound hearing loss in Panama will receive the gift of hearing and thus a fair chance of leading an independent life. The donation builds on the previous project support and marks another milestone in the Swiss foundation’s 10-years history.

Place & Year

Panama, since 2013

Awards

Richard Seewald Award

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.

Although Panama is ranked the second most competitive economy in Latin America according to the World Economic Forum, 26 percent of the population is living in poverty, and is lacking acces to audiological care. Particularly for children, an untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences: children who cannot hear, do not learn to speak which lowers their chances to attend school, to pursue a career and to lead an independent life.

Support needed as the state-run healthcare system can't help

Although the health sector is making major progress in terms of its audiological care infrastructure, the state-run healthcare system can only cover the costs of hearing aids and speech therapy for a handful of those living in poverty. That is why the hope of many people rely on the Fundación pro Integración (FUNPROI), one of the few institutions in the country, who closes this gap by providing ear medical care to children living in poverty.  

Donation of Cochlear Implants for children with profound hearing loss 

Since 2013 the Hear the World Foundation supports FUNPROI with hearing aids, funding and expertise. So far hundreds of children have been helped. Until now, children who did not benefit from even the most powerful hearing aids have been denied the chance of better hearing. That is why for the first time, the Hear the World Foundation is donating chochlear implants (CI) to three children in Panama, in collaboration with the Sonova subsidiary Advanced Bionics.

What is a Cochlear Implant?

A Cochlear Implant is an electronic hearing prothesis with two components: the implant which will be placed under the skin with a surgery and the speech processor with a headset which is worn behind the ear or on the body. 

More about cochlear implants
The first cochlea implants donation is an important step for us. By leveraging another advanced technology from the Sonova product portfolio, we can also give the gift of hearing to children with profound or total hearing loss.»
Lukas Braunschweiler, President of the Hear the World Foundation

FUNPROI engaged for children and young adults with hearing loss

Professional examinations, a suitable hearing aid and speech therapy – this is how FUNPROI improves the quality of life for children and young people with hearing loss. The waiting list for ear medical care is long and children and their parents travel here from all over the country to obtain it. 

In the case of younger children in particular, it is essential for parents to be involved in the process too. So FUNPROI’s staff explain them how to handle the hearing aid and demonstrate speech exercises that parents can practice at home with their children.

Award for outstanding engagement

For its highly professional work FUNPROI was honoured with the 2014 Richard Seewald Award, an annual recognition by the Hear the World Foundation for outstanding engagements.


The Hear the World Foundation's prize is named after Professor Dr. Richard Seewald, who is well known for his tireless efforts in pediatric audiology over many decades. He spearheaded the development of an internationally recognized DSL method for fitting hearing systems to children. Prior to his retirement, Seewald held the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Hearing at that country's National Centre for Audiology, which he co-founded. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Western Ontario.

The FUNPROI team in der Hear the World pose