Stäfa, Switzerland, November 26th, 2018
Permanent hearing loss is one of the most common disabilities and two out of 1,000 newborns are born with hearing loss. Although Peru adopted the universal neonatal screening policy, with only 10 audiologists for 32 million habitants, newborns and infants remain untested for hearing loss. For this reason, the Hear the World Foundation and World Wide Hearing Foundation International jointly launched a program in 2016 to test underserved children in Peru for hearing loss. As of Friday, the goal has been reached for examining more than 30,000 children from underserved communities in Lima and the surrounding areas.
Of the examined children, 430 have been diagnosed with hearing loss. That amounts to around 1.5 percent of all children tested. For them, the hearing test means the start of a new life: they now receive hearing aids, which not only connects them to their world, but also gives them a chance to break free from social isolation, succeed in school and reach their full potential. Children with untreated hearing loss have difficulty learning to talk, following what happens in the classroom and as a result fail out of school.
Professionals on assignment: from 1,000 to over 4,000 tests per week
When the first team of Sonova volunteers traveled to Lima, initially for one week in April 2017, they tested around 1,000 children for hearing loss. The team was joined by Peruvian speech pathology students who, as part of the campaign, were trained as audiology technicians. Within the two years, the efficiency, quality and adeptness for conducting school-based screenings improved from a team of 10 hearing screening technicians and volunteers screening 1,000 children in a week to succeeding in screening as many as 1,000 children in a single day.
Hearing screenings in Lima and throughout the country
During their one-week assignments, Sonova volunteers not only test children’s hearing, but also provide valuable knowledge and skill development to Peruvian colleagues. “The cooperation between World Wide Hearing and Hear the World is very important. We can professionally discuss various aspects of conducting hearing care and also take cultural differences into account,” says Jordan Varillas, Project Coordinator at World Wide Hearing. In the coming year, the successful hearing screening campaign will be expanded to underserved communities outside of Lima, the capital of Peru.
Hearing aids for three siblings
The three siblings Loammy (16), Mishael (10) and Samuel (6) all had hearing loss that had gone untreated. For the youngest brother in particular, this had serious consequences, as the world around him remained silent and he never spoke a word at home. As a result of the hearing screening campaign, Hear the World Foundation and the World Wide Hearing Foundation were able to diagnose their hearing loss and provide all three with new high-quality digital Unitron hearing aids. Thanks to the hearing aids, they are now able to communicate with each other, interact with classmates and improve their school performance. The story of these three siblings can be seen here.
Partnership with Vibes
The project is also supported by Vibes, a manufacturer of high-fidelity earplugs and partner of the Hear the World Foundation since 2016. To promote good hearing, Vibes regularly donates part of its profit to the foundation’s projects. This has enabled a clinic that provides follow-up care for children to be set up in Lima, for exampleMore about the project
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