UCL News


Press cutting: Addressing the neglect of childhood hearing impairment in developing countries

2 April 2007

Although newborn babies in rich countries routinely have their hearing tested, the major global health agencies, such as the World Bank and Unicef, have not prioritized funding for newborn hearing tests in poor countries, writes Dr Bolajoko Olusanya [UCL Institute of Child Health] in 'Public Library of Health Medicine'.


Failure to detect hearing impairment and effectively manage it within the first year of life is linked with significant and irreversible deficits in speech and in linguistic, cognitive, and educational development, says the author.

In her policy paper, Dr Olusanya calls for the creation of new public-private partnerships to increase funding for neonatal hearing tests in developing countries. …

Studies of pilot programs in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Malaysia, Brazil, and Poland have shown the effectiveness of different models of health care service delivery through public-private partnerships. …

"Since infant hearing screening is now routinely provided in developed countries, failure to extend such a program to developing countries where about 90% of children with permanent hearing impairment live will only exacerbate health inequalities between the rich and poor nations of the world."