According to a WHO fact sheet (Anon., 2018), 466 million people across the world suffer from hearing impairment, with estimates for India in the range of 70 – 75 million people. The Census (2011) revealed that hearing impairment is the second most common cause for disability in our country. Over half the cases of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures such as early detection by audiologists whose availability per million of population is less than one, according to an assessment done by WHO (Chestnov, 2013).
Hearing impairment has a direct bearing on one’s ability to communicate with others effectively and confidently, further leading to a feeling of loneliness, isolation and frustration, as well as a serious lack of integration into mainstream society. In the rural and semi urban hinterlands of Haryana, the challenge of hearing loss goes largely unattended due to the lack of skilled manpower and awareness, high cost of hearing aids, and the absence of preventive diagnosis during childbirth.
In order address this issue, Bhajan Global Impact Foundation partnered with Starkey Hearing Foundation to organise three camps for people with hearing challenges in Hisar and Karnal, and provided customised hearing aids free of charge to over 10,670 people cumulatively worth approximately ₹23.5 Crore (or US$3.2 million).
This campaign has been carried out in 4 phases.
- Phase 1: Patient Identification. Registration of all the patients takes place, followed by ear screening and otoscopy, after which ear impressions are taken to determine the shape and size of the hearing aids.
- Phase 2: Hearing Mission. The manufactured hearing aids are given to the patients, and they are counselled about their usage.
- Phase 3: After Care. Fittings of the hearing aids are assessed, and patients have the opportunity to discuss any faults and troubleshooting issues with the aids.
- Phase 4: Correction. If faults are found (rarely), the hearing aids are either repaired or replaced.
There is an additional ‘fifth phase’ that puts a smile on the faces of the patients and fulfilment in our hearts once they are integrated into mainstream life and society. The emotion that a child feels when s/he hears her own voice as well as that of her parents is difficult to describe in words.
At BGIF, we believe that every individual is an asset to our society and economy, and deserves an opportunity to lead a happy and fulfilling life. We are strong proponents of inclusive development in which no one is left behind.