Conference Advances Global Hearing Health The inaugural Coalition for Global Hearing Health conference brought together 75 professionals, representing a wide range of disciplines from 18 countries, to share information about humanitarian hearing health initiatives and to promote best practices in serving people with hearing loss and their families in developing countries. The conference, held June ... World Beat
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World Beat  |   August 01, 2010
Conference Advances Global Hearing Health
Author Notes
  • Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.
    Susan Boswell, assistant managing editor of The ASHA Leader, can be reached at sboswell@asha.org.×
Article Information
Hearing & Speech Perception / World Beat
World Beat   |   August 01, 2010
Conference Advances Global Hearing Health
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.WB1.15102010.19
The ASHA Leader, August 2010, Vol. 15, 19. doi:10.1044/leader.WB1.15102010.19
The inaugural Coalition for Global Hearing Health conference brought together 75 professionals, representing a wide range of disciplines from 18 countries, to share information about humanitarian hearing health initiatives and to promote best practices in serving people with hearing loss and their families in developing countries.
The conference, held June 14–15 in Alexandria, Va., featured a scientific program that offered four tracks: epidemiology; technology; local support and sustainability; and strategies, ethics, and social awareness. Presentations covered a variety of topics, including the feasibility of newborn hearing screening in developing countries, telepractice in audiology and medicine, low-cost cochlear implantation in developing countries, social entrepreneurship and hearing devices, global priorities for hearing loss, and the ethics of humanitarian hearing health care. Featured speakers were Andrew Smith, formerly with the World Health Organization and now with the London School of Tropical Medicine, and BolajokoOlusanya of the Institute of Child Health in Lagos, Nigeria.
The conference promoted dialogue and collaboration among stakeholders in developed and developing countries domestically and internationally. Participants included audiologists, otolaryngologists, social entrepreneurs, educators of children with hearing loss, philanthropists, corporate representatives, and nongovernmental organization administrators.
Although service delivery in each country is unique, common challenges emerged, noted conference participant and presenter Patricia Castellanos de Muñoz, an audiologist and director of Centro de Audición y AdiestramientoFonético in Guatemala. “The most frequently mentioned challenge was the lack of providers with professional training in audiologywho can provide reliable diagnostic services as well as the necessary follow-up required by intervention programs,” she said. “It was gratifying to meet high-level professionals who not only have the academic background, but also the willingness to offer the underserved the opportunity to hear, despite adversity.”
Audiologist and presenter Tomi Brown was unaware of the challenges and roadblocks to providing ear and hearing care in Africa when she began the HEARt of the Village program to bring audiology services to children who are HIV-positive in Kenya.
“I looked to the audiology community for help in guiding my efforts, but found few resources available and only a handful of U.S. audiologists involved in audiology outreach in developing countries,” she said. “The Coalition for Global Hearing Health provides an invaluable resource and support system for audiologists interested in providing sustainable services in the developing world. This is an invaluable resource for an audiologist interested in philanthropic outreach.”
The Coalition for Global Hearing Health was created two years ago to raise awareness of the need for hearing health care worldwide and advocate for policies related to humanitarian hearing health care, to promote best practices in humanitarian service, and to equip and empower hearing health care professionals, families, educators, communities, and people with hearing loss.
Conference co-organizers James E. Saunders, an otolaryngologist at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H., and Jackie Clark, an audiologist and associate professor at the University of Texas, Dallas, have been involved in humanitarian efforts within professional organizations including the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head Neck Surgery Foundation, which hosted the conference, and the International Society of Audiology.
“It’s exciting that stakeholders from around the world were able to attend the conference, and despite the varying disciplines attending there were many engaging conversations and agreement,” Clark said. “None of this could have been accomplished without cooperation from many disciplines that formed our strategic core planning group.”
For more information, visit the Coalition for Global Hearing Health online.
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August 2010
Volume 15, Issue 10