#hearfiji

Hearing the sound of the sea again

The state of general medical care in Fiji cannot be compared with health care in industrial countries. In Germany, for instance, 337 inhabitants share one physician, whereas the ratio is 2100:1 in Fiji. Up to two years ago any audiological care was scarcely imaginable. On the one hand there was a lack of physicians with the relevant training at their command; on the other hand the technical equipment needed to even enable a diagnosis to be made was unavailable.

Place & Year

Fiji, 2010

Project Partners

Carabez Alliance

Support

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.
The topic of hearing loss plays a major role on the Fiji islands, as an above-average number of people are affected by hearing loss on the archipelago. Six per cent of the population has problems with reduced hearing. This quota is the highest in the entire South Pacific region.

Those who hear badly, do not go to school

34 per cent of all the Fijian inhabitants affected by hearing loss are children. To date, no adequate care could be offered to them. Primarily in rural areas some parents hide their hearing impaired children as they are ashamed of them. Religion often plays a part. The mothers and fathers think that a curse has been placed on their family with a hearing impaired child. They do their very best to conceal the children from the outside world. The parents also fear the costs of any medical treatment, which they cannot afford. Only economically privileged families have the possibility of visiting specialists overseas. The result is that many children with hearing loss do not even attend school. At the same time, other children with relatively slight hearing limitation are sent straight to a school for the deaf, where they are only able to make limited progress.

The Hear the World Foundation helps to establish a “hearing clinic”

Thanks to financing and technical support from the Hear the World Foundation and the collaboration with the local ministry of health, the Australian aid organization, Carabez Alliance, has managed to open the first hearing clinic in the country in the capital city of Suva. It is affiliated with a paediatric center in the local hospital and initially offers the opportunity of early detection measures, paediatric audiological therapies and a supply of hearing aids. The offer is free of charge to all children from Fiji and the surrounding pacific islands. Accompanying speech therapies are also on offer.

Own onsite specialists

While currently mainly Australian audiologists are working at the center, the intention is to train more and more native specialists in the coming years. Only in this way will the Fijians be able to stand on their own two feet and no longer be dependent on foreign experts.  A program for early detection is also being established. Newborns in the maternity department of the affiliated clinic are to have their hearing tested, as the earlier hearing loss is detected, the more extensively can the remaining hearing ability be used and the better the linguistic development of the child will proceed.