The following programmes have received support from the Hearing Conservation Council:
Purpose of Grant
The purchase of equipment to establish a basic ear mould laboratory in the Department of Rehabilitation at Pakse General Hospital in Champasak Province in the Lao PDR.
The audiology programme in Laos has established hospital-based services for the rehabilitation of hearing-impaired children at two principal sites. These are located at the National Rehabilitation Centre in the capital Vientiane, and Pakse General Hospital, in Champasak province in southern Laos.
The objective has been to establish both diagnostic and rehabilitative units at each centre with the purpose of detecting, assessing, diagnosing and treating hearing loss in children. Those children found to have active infective disease of the ear are treated medically or surgically. Those with irreversible hearing loss are fitted with hearing aids. The programme not only involves the technological transfer of equipment but also the on-going training of local medical personnel in the field of audiological medicine.
This has been pioneering work and had never been attempted before in the Lao PDR. The programme employs community-based measures for the screening of hearing and treatment of common ear diseases. This primary level of ear health care has, in part, helped to overcome the problem of accessibility, especially in the southern region. More recently, a speech and language therapy training course has been launched as part of the long-term initiative. The programme has seen the first Lao children in history fitted with hearing aids within their own country by their own people.
Purpose of Grant
Towards the purchase of a diagnostic acoustic admittance meter (tympanometer) for the audiology unit at Preah Ang Duong Hospital in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
To date, there is only one ENT hospital in Cambodia - Preah Ang Duong Hospital in Phnom Penh. Collectively, around a thousand outpatients are seen weekly, many being children with active ear disease. Chronic middle ear disease (known as Chronic Otitis Media or COM) is a major public health problem in Cambodia.
The risk factors for the development of COM include young age, overcrowding, inadequate housing, poor hygiene, lack of breast-feeding, poor nutrition, exposure to cigarette or wood-burning smoke, naso-pharyngeal infections, Eustachian tube dysfunction, and inadequate health care. Poverty is a major risk factor in Cambodia. Although, there is no accurate population-based data for COM in Cambodia, the anecdotal evidence in Phnom Penh suggests an avoidable burden of middle ear disease requiring earlier diagnosis in children and more effective management.
In recent times, the hospital has been able to offer an autonomous service of auditory rehabilitation to hearing impaired children. Steadily, it has been equipped with the necessary technology to detect and treat ear disease and hearing loss. An acoustic admittance meter (or tympanometer) is a diagnostic instrument used in the detection of middle ear disease. It serves as an integral part of the clinical set-up especially in the diagnosis of paediatric hearing loss. The tests performed specifically assess the function of the middle ear (that part of the ear in children most prone to acquired disease). These tests are quick, simple to perform, and entirely objective. Such benefits make acoustic admittance audiometry an essential part of any paediatric audiology service, and a crucial diagnostic instrument for accurate analysis of middle ear function in Khmer children.
Nigerian Pepper Grinders Project
Purpose of grant
To support a study of the occupational noise exposures and impacts on hearing in pepper grinders in Nigeria.
The developing countries of the world are, for the most part, now involved in the process of industrialisation. This is often quite rapid and just as unrestrained and uncontrolled as it was in Europe in the 19th century. This development is not without risk. In particular, there is the constellation of the ever increasing number of diseases and injuries which are related to occupation. The more developed countries are responding by research projects into these industrial hazards. These are now being controlled by legislation to protect the health and safety of the worker.
Damage to hearing which results from hazardous noise exposure dominates the scene. Even the transitory visitor to the cities of the developing world is all too aware of this. The Nigerian scene is a noisy one, and increasingly so.
Recognition of which locations, factories or occupations pose a risk depends on the acquisition of reliable data on noise levels and hearing levels. Those who live in a country are more aware of where such research should be directed. Dr Bola Olusanya, a specialist in hearing disorders in Nigeria, has noted that the pepper grinders in the Nigerian market place are exposed to noise levels which pose a risk to their hearing. Dr Olusanya is undertaking a study to quantify the hazard. HCC is pleased to support this project and is providing financial assistance.
Affordable Hearing Aid Project (AHAP)
Purpose of grant
To support the development of a low-cost hearing aid suitable for use in developing countries.
Surveys in the developing countries have shown the need for an affordable hearing aid, preferably solar powered or rechargeable. The late Sir John Wilson, with his colleague Dr Venkatswamy of the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, initiated the $10 intra ocular lens. Again, it was Sir John who was the stimulus for the affordable hearing aid project with a view to having a digitally programmable analogue hearing aid for $40.
Impact UK and Project Impact USA, following feasibility studies and values of patient care, have designed and will manufacture a digitally programmable analogue hearing aid which will be available for about $40. A prototype should be available in September, followed by clinical trials that should commence in the UK, Scandinavia, the United States and India in October and November. The hearing aid itself should be ready for marketing, following field trials, in the spring of 2003.
Hearing Conservation Council endorse this project and have pledged to support the clinical trials in the UK.
The website will be updated with the progress of this hearing aid.