Georgetown, Guyana – (March 7, 2018) Over 500 persons with hearing impairment, today, received free hearing screening during the Starkey Hearing Foundation’s first phase of its Guyana hearing mission initiative for 2018. First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger, attended today’s session, which was held at the National Exhibition Centre in Sophia. She expressed deep gratitude for the services provided by the Foundation, which she said was quite thorough.

“I know that it’s a very thorough and complete test that they do before the administration of the hearing aids or any other hearing devices because I’ve seen other devices and hearing aids being prescribed plus all the information goes into a universal database… They also check [and treat persons] for hearing infections,” the First Lady said.

Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, thanked the Starkey Foundation for their role in making the event possible. Minister Cummings indicated that the service was being offered in all of Guyana’s administrative regions except Region Eight but noted that they would be putting steps in place to ensure hearing aid services are extended to that area.

“We have also trained our local doctors here and our nurses to improve the health literacy of our patients, in terms of giving brochures and what they need to look for and when they’re becoming deaf and not hearing, who to report to, the logistics and so we are very happy for that,” the Minister said. She later urged that the public to get tested for hearing impairments as early as possible.

Head of Audiology in Guyana, Dr. Ruth Quaicoe, noted that a great burden had been lifted off those who could not afford audiological care. “…The cost depends on how strong the hearing aid is but right now it’s sixty-five thousand for one hearing aid. So, each person getting two hearing aid, that’s sixty-five by two and then you have to pay for the batteries, that’s one thousand dollars for a pack, so it’s a very big help from Starkey Hearing Foundation for us,” she said.

Dr. Quaicoe added that the public health sector has been putting preventative measures in places to deal with congenital hearing loss such as testing babies immediately after birth, educating pregnant women on healthy lifestyle choices and hosting sensitization sessions with work places which operate in loud environments.

Coordinator of the International Desk at Ministry of Public Health, Mr. Denroy Tudor said that over the three years that the Foundation has visited Guyana, it has fitted a vast number of Guyanese with hearing aids. “The Ministry of Public Health is elated to be partnering with the Starkey Hearing Foundation… We believe that such a partnership is vital in ensuring that the good life is delivered to all Guyanese,” he said.

Starkey’s International Development Director for the Caribbean, Mr. Kirk Richards explained that Phase I of the mission involved identifying individuals who are in need of hearing care services but cannot afford same. This is accomplished through a series of tests and ear cleaning procedures.

“We’re taking a custom mould of each patient’s ear and with those moulds we bring them back to our head office in the United States where we create custom designs ear moulds for the patients. So what we’re doing, we’re taking impressions to create ear moulds,” he said. Phase II of the mission involves the distribution of the hearing aids and Phase III deals with after care.

The Foundation first come to Guyana after Starkey Hearing Foundation’s Co-Founder, Mrs. Tani Austin met the First Lady at the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, USA in 2015. In June 2016, training in Hearing Health Care session commenced for local health care workers and by February 2017, through collaboration with Ministry of Public Health’s Audiology Department the Foundation brought its services to Guyana.

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