As 2020 comes to a close, we are reflecting on all that we have to be thankful for in spite a challenging year for the world. We are so grateful that the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss has many things to celebrate, thanks our generous and steadfast supporters. Here are some highlights:
Over the past three years, we have helped Mongolia Ministry implement newborn hearing screening in the Mongolia capital of Ulaanbaatar. Early identification is the first step towards making sure children with hearing loss receive timely access to hearing technology and services they need to mitigate the impact of hearing loss on their development. Every year, about 33,000 babies born in Ulaanbaatar are screened as a direct result of our efforts. Previously, hearing loss in children was not identified until about age 4 when they were not developing speech and language as expected.
Mongolia is committed to expanding this screening program nationwide, potentially doubling the number of babies identified with hearing loss every year. In 2020, we raised funds to purchase and distribute newborn hearing screening equipment in three provinces outside of Ulaanbaatar as a first step in this expansion effort. We are also supporting training of local medical professionals on the use of this equipment so they can start screening babies in January 2021. Once implemented in these three provinces, 5,000 additional babies will be screened for hearing loss every year.
The newborn hearing screening program that the GFCHL helped to implement in Ulaanbaatar continues in spite of the pandemic. The GFCHL provided Mongolian health professionals with the necessary equipment and knowledge to manage this effort for their own country. It is an example of the GFCHL’s approach: by empowering local professionals to support their own country’s children with hearing loss, our efforts become sustainable.
COVID-19 prevented us from traveling to Vietnam and Mongolia as planned to continue our in-country training programs in audiology and auditory-verbal practice. In response, we moved elements of our curriculum to an online format to maintain our commitment to our training programs. In doing so, we had to consider potential limitations such as time zone differences, language, stability of Internet access, and technology “know-how” as well as the considerable expense of transcribing content.
We addressed these challenges with a two-pronged approach of 1) pre-recorded videos of lecture content subtitled in the local languages that the participants could watch on their own time and, 2) a series of live webinars designed to facilitate discussion between the GFCHL professionals and the training participants about the video lecture content. With this online initiative, we were able to achieve our goal of continuing training for Vietnamese and Mongolian medical and educational professionals during the pandemic.
We have a full agenda planned for the year ahead with our current programs. We have also been invited to collaborate with partners in other developing countries in support of the Continuum of Care for young children with hearing loss. We are already laying the groundwork for such potential new projects. We look forward to sharing our progress with you in the coming year.
Thank you to all our supporters for your support. We wish you and your family a wonderful – and safe – holiday season!