According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) there are 32 million children worldwide living with disabling hearing loss and the majority of those affected live in developing countries. The WHO also states that 60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable.
In many developing countries hearing health care is under resourced. There is a lack of awareness among healthcare workers and the public of the risk factors for hearing loss in unborn babies and children. Risks in pregnancy such as maternal infections like rubella and irrational use of ototoxic drugs like Quinine to treat malaria can lead to congenital hearing loss. Risks during childhood such as infectious diseases like meningitis and mumps and chronic ear infections can lead to acquired hearing loss in children.
There is no national government organised hearing screening programme as in many developing countries. Audiology resources are inadequate leaving little opportunity for early detection and intervention of hearing loss.
Often referred to as the invisible disability, hearing loss has the greatest impact on a child’s development. These children are often excluded from mainstream society with little chance of ever being able to access education and escape a life of poverty.
Ian Hutcheon Clinic for Children (IHCC) aims to make a difference by adopting strategies which focus on the prevention of childhood hearing loss and to improve hearing outcomes, aiding the development of speech and language.