World Health Organisation headquarters, Geneva (Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/ - user: Yann)
World Health Organisation headquarters, Geneva (Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/ – user: Yann)

In 2010, on learning that the World Health Organisation’s post of officer responsible for the Programme for the Prevention of Deafness and Hearing Impairment was at risk of being abolished through lack of funds, HCC took the lead in forming a Consortium with other like-minded NGOs* who would work together not only to raise funds for the continued finance of this important position, but to also provide professional support and collaboration in the field amongst member states.

The Consortium were successful in finding the funds to support the post for an initial two years and Dr Shelly Chadha commenced in the post in December 2011.

*CBM, The International Federation of Oto-Rhino-Laryngological Societies (IFOS), the International Society of Audiology (ISA) and the American Academy of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery (AAO-HNS).

Examples in the field

“Unless decisive action is taken, the number of hearing impaired people is going to increase beyond this present 360 million as the result of population growth in developing countries and ageing in industrialised countries”. Lady Jean Wilson, Founder & Chairperson HCC)

At the start of her tenure, Dr Chadha outlined key objectives for her programme of work – including the roll out of a programme of support to assist Member States in the integration of primary ear and hearing care (PEHC) into primary health care and the creation of greater international awareness of primary ear and hearing care at all levels of society from Government policy makers, to health personnel and the general population.

Thus far, she has successfully made contact with the Ministries of Health and other partners in more than ten Member states – including Sri-Lanka, Nicaragua, Guinea Conakry, Egypt, Mongolia, Bangladesh, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda and Morocco – in order to encourage and assist with the development of programmes for the prevention of hearing loss in each of these regions.

HCC and the other Consortium members have recently proposed their fund-raising strategy for the continuation of support for Dr Chadha’s post with the WHO until the end of 2015, in order that she may continue to build on the significant developments she has made so far in the field of Deafness Prevention and Hearing Impairment in so many low and middle income countries.