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August 07, 2008

Help for hearing impaired Namibians

Forty percent of all hearing loss in Namibia could be prevented, according to the World Health Organization, WHO. Now there is new hope. ClaSH, The Association for Children with Language, Speech and Hearing Impairments was founded in Namibia with the aim of bringing information and awareness about hearing loss to the people, building a contact network and providing aids to hearing impaired people.

Provision of medication and other assistance for people with hearing difficulties is insufficient in Namibia because of a deficient infrastructure. Often, common diseases, such as malaria and meningitis result in hearing damage. According to WHO, 40 percent of such cases of hearing loss are easily prevented, and this is one aim of CLaSH.

The new organization offers contacts and referrals to treatment centers, holds workshops for parents of hearing impaired children, co-ordinates the dispensing of hearing aids and organizes informational campaigns. Posters have been produced in six languages spoken in Namibia for a campaign involving radio and TV, as well.

International support

In an operation dubbed „Operation Omakutsi” German hearing specialists travel to Namibia to perform inner ear surgery for free. Namibian doctors assist in the operations, gaining valuable practical experience and knowledge, which, in turn, will benefit future treatment of hearing impairment in Namibia.

Clinic on wheels

The Hearing Assessment and Research Center, HARK, is a mobile clinic touring the Northern part of the country. Hearing screening is performed at each stop, ear infections are treated and hearing aids are fitted. The mobile HARK clinic is sponsored by the Commonwealth Society for the Deaf.

Uncertain future

”To me, CLaSH is a channel of communication,” a father of a hearing impaired child stated in a film documentary about the organization. However, the longer term existence of this channel is uncertain, as future funding of the program has yet to be secured.

Source: Hörakustik 3/2008

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