Thanks to app: hearing screening for 27'000 school children
Two thirds of Cape Town's inhabitants live in townships and have rarely access to audiological care. In order to close this gap, our project partner, hearX Foundation, uses a self-developed app for non-professionals to conduct hearing screenings. Thanks to this new technology the hearing of 27'000 school children can be screened until 2021.
Place & Year
Project PartnershearX Foundation
The lack of audiological care for people in need is well known in South Africa. In 2012 the government introduced a mandatory hearing-test program for school children - also for those living in townships but its implementation is not progressing as planned due to a lack of experts. On average, there are only 2.4 audiologists per 100'000 inhabitants in South Africa, compared to 16.4 in the UK. Moreover audiology equipment is prohibitively expensive for the country’s public authorities.
The hearX Foundation has addressed this problem by introducing a hearing screening app. The app is designed so that screenings can be carried out without knowledge of audiology using only a special smartphone and headphones – with only minimal training. Another of the app’s advantages: it reduces the cost of the hearing screening by 50 to 70 percent.
Hearing screenings for children in townships
Early detection and timely treatment of hearing loss are at the heart of the #HearSouthAfrica project. By March 2021, the hearScreen app will be used to screen the hearing of 27'000 school children (age 5 to 7) in need living in townships near Cape Town and Pretoria.
Screenings conducted by locals
The hearing screenings are conducted by community workers, residents of the townships themselves. They know their way around, are able to assess potentially dangerous situations and speak the local languages. Their commitment to the project in South Africa means a lot to these individuals, allowing them to contribute to their community and overcome unemployment.
Timely treatment ensured
If a child is diagnosed with hearing loss, a second screening is carried out. If a child fails both hearing screenings, it is referred to a local audiologist. If the government health program is unable to provide the child with hearing aids within a reasonable amount of time, the Hear the World Foundation temporarily lends new hearing aids to the child. This ensures that children in need are provided with hearing aids immediately and that their development is not delayed due to waiting times.
Prevention campaign with Swiss musician
Swiss musician and Hear the World ambassador Marc Sway joined the local project team together with a group of volunteers, all employees from Sonova, for a week and supported their hearing loss prevention campaign at nine of the largest schools in the townships. For this purpose, he changed the text of the children's song Old MacDonald had a farm adding hearing loss prevention messages. He sang this song with the school children and by doing this, not only taught them how important it is to protect the hearing, he also relieved them of the fear of the hearing test to follow.