Staefa, Switzerland, January 18, 2017

Disadvantaged children with profound hearing loss receive the gift of hearing in Panama

The Hear the World Foundation, a Sonova initiative, will for the first time support an aid project with the donation of cochlear implants. In February 2017, three children with profound hearing loss will get the gift of hearing and thus a fair chance of leading an independent life. This engagement builds on the support the Hear the World Foundation has provided to the Panamanian non-profit organization Fundación Pro Integración since 2013 and marks another milestone in the Swiss foundation’s 10-years history.

If left untreated, hearing loss can have serious consequences, particularly for children. Children who cannot hear, or can barely hear, do not learn to speak and, in many countries, are not able to attend school, which lowers their chances of pursuing a career and leading an independent life.

First donations of cochlear implants for children with profound or total hearing loss

Until now, children who did not benefit from even the most powerful hearing aids have been denied the chance of better hearing. That is why for the first time, the Hear the World Foundation is donating cochlear implants (CI) to three Panamanian children, in collaboration with the Sonova subsidiary Advanced Bionics. A Cochlea Implant is an electronic hearing prothesis with two components: the implant which will be placed under the skin with a surgery and the speech processor with a headset which is worn behind the ear or on the body. 

“The first cochlear implants donation is an important step for us,” says Lukas Braunschweiler, President of the Hear the World Foundation. “By leveraging another advanced technology from the Sonova product portfolio, we can now also give the gift of hearing to children with profound or total hearing loss.”

The gift of hearing where the state-run healthcare system can't help

Although Panama is ranked the second most competitive economy in Latin America according to the World Economic Forum, 26 percent of the population is living in poverty, and is lacking access to audiological care. While the health sector is making major progress in terms of its audiological care infrastructure, the state-run healthcare system can only cover the costs of audiological care for a handful of those living in poverty.
 
That is why, since 2013, the Hear the World Foundation supports the Fundación pro Integración (FUNPROI, www.funproi.org), one of the few institutions in the country who closes this gap by providing ear medical care to children living in poverty. By providing hearing aids, funding and expertise, hundreds of children have been helped. In addition, FUNPROI was honoured with the Richard Seewald Award in 2014, an annual recognition by the Hear the World Foundation to honour outstanding engagements.

Further information about the project
Background information about the cochlear implant

Images can be downloaded here:

Panama City - the contrast of rich and poor

Alejandro, 4 years old, is one of the CI-recipients

Alejandro with his mother and father in front of their home 2.5 hours away from Panama City

Josmar, 3 years old, is also a CI-recipient

Josmar with his mother and grandmother at their home in a neighborhood Panama City

Speech therapy at FUNPROI in Panama City

Fitting of hearing aids at FUNPROI in Panama City