Early detection of hearing loss and sustainable care
Sadly, high demand is not matched by supply: many Central American countries frequently lack basic medical facilities and trained personnel. Guatemala is no exception. Therefore, the Hear the World Foundation is working with the Healing the Children organization to improve audiological care for children. The Hear the World Foundation is donating high-quality diagnostic equipment.
Place & Year
Project PartnersHealing the Children
With a population of over 12.7 million, Guatemala is the most populous state in Central America. More than half the population lives in poverty and is considered to be medically under-resourced. There is a shortage of hospitals, medical equipment and affordable medicines. In Guatemala City alone, the roughly one million residents have access to just two hospitals. In rural areas, the situation for the predominantly indigenous population is even worse. As a result, the majority of cases of hearing loss go undiagnosed and untreated.
Medical care for children in need
Healing the Children, based in Oregon, USA, has for many years pursued a single goal: to provide children in need around the world with access to medical care. In Guatemala, the organization has helped establish three audiological clinics in rural areas and trained local staff on the use of audiological equipment and hearing aids. Moreover, the ENT teams at the organization carry out over 100 surgical interventions per year. Over a 13-year period, more than 5,000 children with hearing loss have received audiological care.
Reliably detecting hearing loss
With the support of the Hear the World Foundation, audiological care is being further expanded in Guatemala. In the western highlands, for instance, three new audiological clinics are being built, which will in particular significantly improve the situation of disadvantaged children with hearing loss. The Hear the World Foundation is donating high-quality diagnostic equipment to these clinics, which will ensure that hearing problems are diagnosed and appropriate care can be given. The sooner this happens, the greater the chance that the children will enjoy age-appropriate development and a possible route out of poverty.
Local expertise is the way to go
To guarantee sustainable care, it is vital that audiological expertise is developed at a local level. Under the guidance of teaching staff and students from the University of Washington, locals are receiving training as part of a program lasting several weeks. The training program covers the areas of diagnosis, fitting and maintenance of hearing aids, and the provision of information to families of children with hearing loss. They can then work independently at the facilities in future, without being constantly reliant on external assistance.