High-quality hearing healthcare for Ukraine
Ukraine gained independence in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The health care system in Ukraine is a successor of the Soviet system: it is supposed to be free to citizens according to law, but in practice, patients have to pay a lot of extra money to get medical treatment. According to the WHO, in 2016 Ukrainian households spent 25% of their income on medical treatments. But nevertheless, life expectancy in Ukraine is actually 11 years lower than in other European countries.
Place & Year
Project PartnersHearing Centre Ivano-Frankivsk
There is also need for improvement when it comes to hearing health care. While those with hearing loss do get free hearing aids from the state, they are not of great benefit to them. They only get one hearing aid, however most people would need two, and the hearing aids are not properly fitted. There is no national hearing screening program for newborns and the hospitals are not equipped for an all-embracing hearing examination.
That’s what our partner, the Hearing Centre in Ivano-Frankisvk, wants to change. The Hearing Centre was established by three young Ukrainian ENT doctors: Roman, Myroslava, and Ostap. Roman and Ostap did some studying in the US which helped them to understand what needed to be changed in their own country. The more they learned abroad, the more they wanted to go back and implement it in Ukraine. That’s how the Hearing Centre was born, with the help and support of Hear the World and other NGOs and NPOs.
Hearing loss diagnostic under one roof
The goal of the Hearing Centre is to provide all the services and tests necessary for hearing examinations under one roof. And if patients need surgery, they can be operated on in the hospital just across the street.
Another goal of the Hearing Centre is to train aspiring ENT doctors in audiology and audiological diagnosis. The university has the facilities for medical students to be offered this training, however, in Ukraine, often the problem is not the lack of equipment, but the lack of knowledge of how to use it.
Since 2018, the Hear the World Foundation has supported the Hearing Centre both financially—to acquire diagnostic tools—and through the donation of hearing aids. The necessary specialist knowledge is provided by hearing experts who provide support and mentorship as volunteers.
Helping to build local capacity through a training in Lübeck
In the summer of 2019, Myroslava from the Hearing Centre team was one of three clinicians out of all the Hear the World partners who were offered training in pediatric audiology at the International Summer Academy in Lübeck.
During the one-week intensive course, she learned best practices in diagnosing hearing loss in children, making ear molds suitable for children, fitting hearing aids and involving families in their children’s care. In addition, experts brought her up to date on modern hearing technology and diagnostic procedures.
In order to provide follow-up training for Myroslava and her team, Hear the World visited the Hearing Centre in November 2019, together with Julia Litvina, an audiological trainer from Sonova Russia and Dorothe Veraguth, an ENT doctor and member of the HTW advisory board.
Early intervention is key
Another initiative of the Hearing Centre is the newborn hearing screening. If hearing screenings are not routinely performed on babies and children, hearing loss often goes undetected for a long time and thus remains untreated or is treated too late. In order to establish a hearing screening program in Ukraine, the Hearing Centre team plans to go to the maternity houses in Ivano-Frankivsk every three days, performing newborn hearing screenings and training the staff working there. Because the state provides equipment for newborn hearing screening, but no training and there is no monitoring of the results of the screenings.