January 8, 2014
Low-Cost Calibrators & Hearing Tests
contributor: Rob Goodier
A good design idea or the right tip could help a medical organization in Cambodia that specializes in hearing loss. All Ears Cambodia tests hearing and provides treatment and hearing aids to a community of 14 million Khmers. The organization works for free, providing healthcare under the wing of more than 50 aid agencies and four public hospitals.
Glyn Vaughan, who directs the charity, reached out to E4C to ask for help with two problems his clinics face: How to calibrate their audiometers, which test hearing, and how to dampen the noise from the street during hearing tests in lively communities.
“The need is great,” Vaughan told E4C by email. “Our target groups generally are some of the poorest, most marginalized people in the world. They include children with HIV or orphaned by AIDS, street children and former child laborers, women and girls who have been victims of trafficking rings or domestic violence, physically disabled people and people affected by landmines and leprosy.”
All Ears Cambodia is the only organization doing this kind of service in the region, Vaughan says. It has a bare-bones staff of eight clinicians and eight trainees who handle a case load of more than 22,000 patients per year. The organization also opened the School of Audiology and Primary Ear Health Care to train local specialists to work in this healthcare niche.
A worldwide problem
We looked into hearing loss statistics after Vaughan reached out to us and it turns out that it might be even more pervasive worldwide that All Ears Cambodia states on its Web site.
As of early in 2013, hearing loss afflicts 360 million people, representing 5 percent of the world population, according to the World Health Organization. It can strike before birth as hereditary impairment, or it can be brought on by infections during pregnancy. It can also strike at any age as a consequence of infection such as meningitis, measles and mumps, loud noises such as gunfire, explosions or concerts and other factors.
The service that All Ears Cambodia provides may be overlooked by those of us who hear well, but it makes a difference.
We focus on the weakest and hardest hit fighting ear disease and restoring the sense of hearing.
The organization provides a range of hearing aids, it has a lab that takes ear molds and a repair service for broken devices.
We have reached out to a handful of medical device makers and hearing health organizations looking for solutions to this interesting problem. Now we are putting the question to the E4C community. Feel free to discuss ideas in the comments below, or get in touch with Vaughan in Cambodia:
- T: 855 (0) 12-624530
- E: firstname.lastname@example.org