Sound for Silence NPC

17 babies with hearing loss are born in South Africa every day - 2 of these babies in private hospitals and 15 in public hospitals. Only 14% of private hospitals and less than 1% of public health care facilities in South Africa offer a hearing test for every baby after birth. That means that most children with hearing loss born in South Africa will only be diagnosed when they are toddlers (some are even older), because of the lack of universal infant hearing screening programmes. These children will NEVER have the same opportunities for development, education or applying for jobs as adults as their normal-hearing friends and friends with hearing loss who were diagnosed as small babies. Child...

Sound for Silence NPC
Promed Building
73 Fontein Street
Ficksburg, Free State 9730
South Africa
+27 (0) 83 708 4079
http://www.soundforsilence.org

Board of Directors

Annerina Grobbelaar, Samantha Botes, Christina E Greyling

Project Leaders

Annerina Grobbelaar

Mission

17 babies with hearing loss are born in South Africa every day - 2 of these babies in private hospitals and 15 in public hospitals. Only 14% of private hospitals and less than 1% of public health care facilities in South Africa offer a hearing test for every baby after birth. That means that most children with hearing loss born in South Africa will only be diagnosed when they are toddlers (some are even older), because of the lack of universal infant hearing screening programmes. These children will NEVER have the same opportunities for development, education or applying for jobs as adults as their normal-hearing friends and friends with hearing loss who were diagnosed as small babies. Children with hearing loss born in the rural areas of South Africa face a bleak future in the absence of early hearing detection and intervention services. Not only are their chances of early identification next to nothing, but should they get diagnosed by some sort of miracle, access to services in bigger towns and cities are severely limited due to poverty and lack of resources and infrastructure. If a parent and child are reliant on the public healthcare sector, a routine appointment with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist may turn into a three-day excursion, of which they have to spend the nights in the waiting room of the nearest regional hospital (100km from our area), waiting for the public transport to take them to the tertiary hospital (another 200km away from our area) the next morning and vice versa. Furthermore, due to lack of manpower, the specialist services at the tertiary hospitals (including Audiology, Paediatrics, and Ear-, Nose and Throat services) are way overbooked, and a four-month old infant referred from our screening programme may have to wait 5 to 6 months for a diagnostic audiological work-up at the tertiary hospital. Our goals are: 1) To establish a universal infant hearing screening programme at all but not limited to the rural areas of the Setsoto Local Municipality. 2) To establish a local diagnostic centre where children referred from the screening programme can receive a full diagnostic audiological work-up. 3) To establish a local and culturally appropriate auditory-verbal intervention programme for children with hearing loss. 4) To conduct ethically sound and area-specific auditory research regarding hearing in children in the rural areas of South Africa.

Programs

We are a relatively new organization, but so far we have managed to establish the Rural Infant Hearing Screening Project (RIHS Project) at all four primary healthcare clinics in the town of Ficksburg and township of Meqheleng. A hearing screening professional attends the weekly immunization day at these clinics, and offers a distortion-product oto-acoustic emissions screening hearing test to all the babies receiving their 6 or 10-week immunizations. Babies who do not pass the hearing test, receives a follow-up appointment at their next immunization visit. If the baby still does not pass the second hearing test, a follow-up appointment is made with myself in the town of Ficksburg to assess middle ear functioning and to repeat the screening. Babies are then referred to the nearest diagnostic facility for diagnostic assessments, and for the hearing aid fitting if necessary. Speech therapy is then offered at the nearest regional hospital. Due to extreme poverty in our area (58% of all households report an average household income of less than $100 per month), this creates endless problems for our patients who need to travel to these facilities for treatment. We have screened nearly 600 babies so far, and identified a 4-month old baby with severe-to-profound hearing loss, and another 18-month old with profound hearing loss. A pilot project was conducted in 2009 at two of the four immunization clinics, and valuable lessons were learned and applied before the RIHS Project was launched - this has resulted in increased follow-up rates (comparable to follow-up rates in screening programmes in the US), and streamlined referral to the appropriate services. As we have very little funds and resources available, I have been funding the RIHS Project since its beginning, but we would like to expand our Project to include all the other towns in our local municipality as well, and establish a local diagnostic audiological service to eliminate the need for these patients to travel 100 - 200km in order to attend appointments.

Statistics on Sound for Silence NPC

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