According to WHO, more than 360 million have disabling hearing loss, with the greatest prevalence living in developing countries.
On May 8, the Ministry of Health welcomed a group of representatives from the Starkey Hearing Foundation to Saint Lucia.
The foundation was founded by William Austin in 1984 with the objective to provide the gift of hearing to those most in need.
Dr. Sharon Belmar-George, Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health welcomed the contribution of the Starkey team.
“Hearing health is one of the gaps that the Ministry of Health has noted in our community programs. We presently have only two hearing health clinics on island, so this provides an excellent opportunity to improve and provide a sustainable program of hearing health within our primary care setting. The team is here with us today, and we have organized training for nursing staff within all of the nine health regions, so it will allow sustainability even after the Starkey hearing team has left. We will also conduct screening for persons flagged with hearing issues, and the foundation provides hearing aids free of charge to persons most in need.”
Kirk Richards, Starkey’s International Development Director for the Caribbean Region said the Starkey Hearing Foundation has provided hearing opportunities in Latin America, Asia and Africa, and has now moved its services to the Caribbean, with Saint Lucia as its first client.
“We are trying to provide the gift of hearing for those in need among the people of the Caribbean. Right now Saint Lucia is our first stop. We have been working with the Ministry of Health and they have identified patients who will need our services, and today we’ve identified 100 patients.”
Mr Richards said several collaborating partners have provided the assistance needed to execute Starkey’s mission efficiently and effectively. He added that issues associated with hearing may range from ageing to listening to loud music.