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Ear and hearing care services offered to local communities

- Wits University

Final year audiology students advance hearing health equity through activities aimed at Vrededorp and Jan Hofmeyer residents.

Khethani Makhuvela

World Hearing Day is celebrated annually on 3 March 2024. The global theme for 2024 Changing mindsets: Let’s make ear and hearing care a reality for all, calls for ear and hearing care to be accessible to everyone. To celebrate World Hearing Day, Wits students provided a variety of ear and hearing care services from 6 to 8 March 2024 in Vrededorp and Jan Hofmeyer, local communities near Wits. These services included hearing health education, hearing screening, and a workshop on hearing aid use and care.

During this period, 26 children and 73 adults received free screening and many more benefited from the educational workshops.

"World Hearing Day is not just a date on the calendar for us, it's a call to action to create awareness and address stigma around hearing-related conditions," says Khethani Makhuvele, who believes in health activism.

“For this event, we did a visual examination of the ear and ear canal (otoscopy) followed by a screening hearing test. Depending on the outcome of the screening results, appropriate feedback was provided. More than 20 individuals were referred to government clinics or hospitals for further diagnostic testing,” says Professor Karin Joubert from the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology.

Partnership breaks stigma

The event was a joint operation between the Wits Department and care workers from Park Care, specifically Galina Shongwe, who facilitated the recruitment of individuals for screening.

Park Care provides specialised 24/7 nursing care and holistic support to older and frail persons within a caring residential setting. Watch here as members of the community share their perceptions and experiences related to hearing health.

Aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SGD3) which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, this initiative contributes to advancing health equity. Hearing loss can happen at any stage in life and can result in reduced quality of life. Therefore, regular screenings lead to early detection which is crucial for effective rehabilitation.

Joubert adds that one of the barriers to seeking hearing care is the stigma associated with hearing loss. Such calendar days “help to break down these stigmas by promoting a more inclusive and supportive environment for individuals with hearing impairments. By reducing stigma, more people may feel comfortable seeking help for their hearing issues".

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