“I first realised that Tobile has serious hearing problems when she didn’t start talking like other children” explains her Mum, Clara. “Tobile went to school but she wasn’t able to interact. She was treated badly by the other children and also by the teachers.”
CBM’s partner, Beit CURE Hospital, diagnosed that Tobile was deaf in her left ear; with the right ear she could hear just a little bit.
When Tobile was fitted with a hearing aid, all of a sudden she looked very much surprised. The audiology technician asked her: “How old are you?” “Six”, she responded. Her Mum couldn’t believe it, and needed to control her tears. “Can you hear me?” she whispered. “Yes, I can hear everything, Mama!” Tobile smiled.
Before leaving, Tobile walked with her Mum through the backyard of the hospital. First, she was a bit shy beside her mother, then all of a sudden, she shouted: “I can hear the birds!” Tobile smiled and ran around with her arms outstretched. Clara just laughed – “That is pure happiness!”
“Six-year-old Tobile was fitted with a hearing aid by CBM partners Beit CURE Hospital in Zambia.”
In Zambia, just one audiologist and five ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists serve a population of more than 19 million people.
The impact of hearing loss is serious and far-reaching. It is both a cause and consequence of poverty. It is an under-recognised consequence of major diseases – and sometimes their treatments. Adults with hearing loss often face unemployment, and communication barriers affect relationships as well as access to information and services. In children, it leads to poor language and cognitive development, and routinely results in a struggle to access education. Hardship and stigma are a reality for all ages and genders.
With our partner Beit Cure Hospital, CBM’s PrevENT project worked from 2017 to 2022 to improve ear and hearing care in three Central Province districts in Zambia. For more than one million people living in Central Province, this project marked the availability of formal, integrated community and specialist ear and hearing care services for the very first time.
During the course of the project:
Together, these healthcare workers delivered an incredible 120,000 consultations and services over the lifetime of the project. As long as services are maintained, this number stands to increase substantially in the coming years. This project has been a success not only for the individuals who were able to access treatment, but also in substantially strengthening local systems for years to come.
Image Copyright: CBM/Daniel Hayduk