Malawian students travel to Manchester to save country from hearing loss pandemic

Four Malawian students have come to Manchester to train as audiologists in order to serve their countries, thanks to the charity Sound Seekers.

In Malawi, a country with a population of 16million and an estimated 600,000 people with hearing loss, there are no trained audiologists.

Deafness is a huge problem in the region as it is a barrier to education and employment, and is surrounded by stigma.

Alice Davis, fundraising and operations manager, said: “Life in Malawi in general is difficult and if you have any form of disability, it makes it that much harder.

“Children with disabilities, especially girls, may be kept at home to do menial tasks and not allowed to attend school.

“Children that are unable to wear hearing aids because they have a profound hearing loss are lucky if they get a place in one of the six overcrowded deaf schools in Malawi.

“They need to be admitted before age six or they will never be admitted to school.

“If a child lost their hearing after this then they would not be allowed to attend a deaf school.”

The World Health Organisation estimates that in developing countries only one in 40 people that need a hearing aid actually have one.

The University of Manchester’s Audiology department, which dates back to 1919, is the oldest in the UK and is widely recognised as the best facility in the European Union. 

Once the students have completed their education they will return to Malawi to put their training into action as audiologists.

Chikondi, one of the students, said: “It is such a great honour to be here in England, doing a master’s in audiology.

“Being one of the four Malawians studying here, I see it as a great development to Malawi because I will deliver the services from the knowledge I will gain here, to my country.”

Just one audiologist can make a massive difference in the community by educating people on the causes of hearing loss, helping people take preventative steps and offering direct healthcare.

Alice Davis told MM: “One audiologist can help children with hearing loss have a chance of receiving an education and ensure adults have the ability to maintain employment.

“Both of which are essential to reducing poverty in developing countries.”

Sound Seekers are a UK-based charity that strive to help people with hearing loss across Africa.

They offer education and training as well as direct help, such as hearing aids and medical treatment.

The charity are celebrating their 21st anniversary by inviting anyone connected to the deaf community to share nominate their own #HearingHero, to thank those who have made a difference in the lives of deaf people.

To find out more about Sound Seekers, visit here.

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