A Support Group composed of the Donors (I.F.O.S., HCC, CBM, ISA, and AAORL) that funded a person in WHO, Geneva, has been active to continue a program for Prevention of Hearing Impairment and Deafness in WHO. Although WHO has no funds, it is important that such an official WHO program will continue in order to get the involvement of Governments and International Organizations. After one year of discussions Dr. Shelly Chadha from New Delhi, India started in December 2011. She has been active in Asia for the Prevention of Hearing Impairment an Deafness and was part of the group under the guidance of Prof. Dr. A. Agarwal, to stimulate the Government of India to start a Program, with the Integration of Primary Ear Care in Primary Health Care.
Dr. Chadha is the right person for the job. She already showed progress. The aim and objectives of the Program for the coming years are described, short term and long term goals are formulated, as well as the action program. The Program in India is a success and an inspiration for other countries. With the help of members of the support group the Governments of Sri Lanka, Zambia and Nicaragua are contacted and The Prevention Program of Hearing Impairment and Deafness will start in Sri Lanka and hopefully also in Zambia and Nicaragua. Despite the difficulties to get awareness for the most occurring handicap in the World, there are positive developments. Progress is needed. We have to convince Governments and International Organizations that what water is for the body, is hearing for the mind. Without Hearing there's no development.
Long Term Funding for the Program is needed and for this strategies are developed. On behalf of IFOS the Executive Committee has nominated Dr. A. Agarwal as representative in the Support Group, together with the past General Secretary Dr. J.J.Grote.
Since the departure of Dr. Khu as successor of Dr. Andrew Smith there was no person within WHO, Geneva to take care of the interest of hearing impairment and deafness. With the different parties involved we succeeded to find funds for a highly qualified person with a new job description and strategy to work together with Dr. Alwan, Director of the Division Non-communicable diseases, to realize goals of prevention of hearing impairment and deafness in the coming two years. The donors are, HCC, CBM, IFOS, ISAA and the American Academy. For IFOS the General Secretary found funds via a charity in The Netherlands, De Nationale Hoorstichting. The donors will form a support group to take care of the program and the continuation so that after two years there might be a possibility for sustainable funding. The Worldwide Action hearing for All via the top down lobby with governments and international organizations has finally results, especially in Asia thanks to our contact person in India, Dr. Agarwal and his team. The government of India has taken up the responsibility to integrate primary ear care in primary health care and be critical on the hearing impairment and deafness with vaccination. They will report later on their progress. Also in Bangladesh and Indonesia positive developments can be mentioned. With the integration of our goals in WHO we have made a major step. The top down lobby continues especially with the contacts with the Development Agencies of the United Nations. This will also be part of the strategy with WHO.
India 50 million dollars and Bangladesh 100 million dollars for the integration of primary ear care in primary health care. From 8 to 10 December, 2009, the General Secretary was present in Katmandu, Nepal at a meeting of the Asian countries with representatives of WHO and the Society for Sound Hearing . 65 participants from nine SEA countries were present. They were all interested in the work for the prevention of Hearing Impairment and Deafness. The best news was the allocation of money for the integration of primary ear care in primary health care by the governments of India and Bangladesh. Our top down lobby is starting to give results. Thanks to the work of Dr. Agarwal with the assistance of Dr. Shelly and others in India and Dr. Alauddin of Bangladesh, these examples will stimulate the region. The instruction material as prepared in India will be helpful for other countries. Most important is that these actions will be sustainable. They are integrated in existing primary health care. During the meeting Dr. Agarwal was elected as president of Sound Hearing as successor of Dr. Bulantrisna, who has worked hard in the past years to reach the goals of prevention of Hearing impairment and deafness in the region. A symposium on hearing screening in infant and children was moderated by Dr. Shelly from India and guidelines regarding infant hearing screening in the region were developed. The activities in Asia are an example for other parts of the world.
The General Secretary was present at the General Assembly of the WHO and had the possibility to contact different Directorates with the help of the Unit of Blindness and Deafness and our representative Dr. Young-Ah Ku. The Global Vaccination is preparing a report on the Worldwide Measles vaccination. They are focusing especially on mortality. We stressed especially the importance of the prevention of morbidity by prevention of Chronic Otitis Media and Hearing Loss. Combined survey will start. With the program of integrated management care we will continue our work in the Worldwide Action Hearing for All with the integration of primary ear care in primary health care in some pilot countries. The Directorate Aging has to start again with the new Director plans are made to integrate hearing impairment of the elderly in the Program. IFOS as NGO will continue to work with WHO via the Unit of Blindness and Deafness. We will focus on the above mentioned cooperation and we will start in Africa in one pilot country (Kenya) with the integration of primary ear care in primary health care. There is success of the Worldwide Action in Asia, thanks to the work of Dr. Agarwal. The Ministry of Health and Family Affairs of India has published different manuals for the health care workers and Doctors to integrate primary ear care in primary health care. The Government of India has allocated a considerable sum to realize this before 2012. This will also take place in Bangladesh with the help of Dr. Alauddin, Regional Secretary of West Asia. At the XIXth World Congress in Sao Paulo a successful symposium was held under the leadership of Dr. James Saunders for the prevention of Hearing Impairment and Deafness. There is an increasing interest in our Public Health work. Those who are interested to work with us, please contact the Office.
The lobby of the Worldwide Action "Hearing for All" to stimulate prevention of Hearing Impairment and Deafness is continuing. The network around the world of colleagues who want to help is growing. On March 12, 2008 we had a very successful meeting in Tokyo organized by Prof. Toshi Yagi, executive member of IFOS. The meeting was in cooperation with the International Eye Societies and was called Eye and Ear Summit. Our message and goals are clear. All over the world the awareness of the importance of Hearing has to be improved. Hearing has to come on the agenda of governments and International Organizations. Our goals for the developing countries are prevention by vaccination and integration of primary ear care in primary health care. For the developed world our goals are prevention of noise which effects especially our young population and increasing the distribution of hearing aids. These goals have to be promoted in the different countries and the event in Tokyo was an example how to start and proceed. We will keep you updated about the results in 2008. Please contact our office if you are interested to join.
In the Opening Session of the 6th SAARC meeting in Dhaka, Bangladesh in February 2008, the General Secretary addressed the Minister of Health explaining the need for prevention for Hearing Impairment and Deafness and the influence on the first and second millennium goal. Bangladesh has now 100% primary education, but a high percentage of the children have problems with hearing with consequences for their education, because of chronic otitis media and other ear diseases. Primary ear care integrated in primary health care is a start for prevention. The minister promised to take this issue serious and a program is in preparation. Primary ear care integrated in primary health care as sustainable prevention is also on the agenda in India. We hope to start also in some pilot countries in Africa. Dr. Johan Fagan from Cape Town in South Africa started training programs for ENT specialists for African ENT doctors. IFOS will support this initiative. It is difficult to get Hearing on the programs but together we will succeed.
The preparations to distribute the screening hearing test as tool of awareness in different countries and in different languages is in progress. So far these tests which can be done by cell phone or via a website are very successful. People like to do hearing tests unanimously. Those who are interested can contact IFOS office for further details. During the Academy meeting in Washington September 2007, a very successful session was organized on the prevention of Hearing loss. The Humanitarian committee of the Academy with Dr. James Saunders also produced a CD, Hearing Loss Prevention a Global Challenge with a lot of information. If you are interested please contact the American Academy. IFOS needs more colleagues who are interested in this most important issue. Please join us.