Rayovac is delighted to support the Ian Hutcheon Clinic for Children (IHCC) with a donation of Rayovac hearing aid batteries. The charity helps to increase awareness of hearing loss as well as making hearing and ear services more accessible in Uganda.
The IHCC was set up by Dr. Paul Choudhury and his wife Liz in the memory of their friend Ian Hutcheon, who devoted a lot of his time and energy into ensuring that young people were given opportunities in life to better themselves, both in the UK and in developing countries.
Dr. Choudhury explains: “Liz and I came to Uganda in 2010 to help a friend set up a home for abandoned children. Analysing the situation in Uganda, we soon realised that there was an enormous need for a hearing health care service for children.
“There is no such service available in Uganda and yet the prevalence is estimated to be high. In one small scale study in Uganda, the prevalence of disabling loss in children was 10.2% - nearly half was due to preventable causes. Only rich people are able to access better services by paying privately or going abroad.”
Free hearing services for Ugandan children
With Dr. Choudhury’s expertise in the field and Liz’s experience as a nurse and midwife, the couple wanted to set up a charity that would utilize their medical skills and decided to create a hearing health service in partnership with local government. This hearing clinic was to be embedded alongside other health care services provided at government health centres and was to provide free help to children up to the age of 16.
The main referral centre now consists of a sound treated room with two audiologists, a nurse, newborn and school hearing screeners and administrator. It offers a full pathway of audiological services from screening through to audiological assessment, hearing aid fitting and rehabilitation using up to date equipment.
Visual Reinforcement Audiometry (VRA) has recently been installed and is the only one in the whole of Uganda. Two UK Audiologists are currently training and empowering the local audiologists in the use of this modern equipment.
Dr. Choudhury adds: “We are currently introducing a new born hearing screening programme and school hearing screening programme. Various cadres of health care workers are being trained in these areas to provide both services. This is an exciting step forward in the development of our programme, with both services being new to Uganda.”
Poverty and the lack of resources
Running the IHCC has many challenges. As well as bureaucracy and the lack of trained audiologists and healthcare workers in Uganda, Dr. Choudhury regularly encounters poverty, which affects his patients’ ability to deal with their hearing problems.
Most of the young patients that visit the clinic cannot afford to buy hearing aid batteries on a regular basis. Dr. Choudhury says that some clients will go without using their hearing aids until family members have gathered enough money to buy new hearing aid batteries.
He explains: “Rayovac’s continued help with hearing aid battery donations will solve this monumental problem and will benefit a large number of underprivileged children.
“Being a small charity, funds are limited and therefore we have to manage the resources we have wisely. Offers of help, such as the supply of hearing aid batteries, are greatly appreciated and go a long way to helping us sustain the hearing aid programme.”
Paula Brinson-Pyke, Rayovac’s Marketing Director, said of the donation: “Rayovac are pleased to support the IHCC and the great work they are doing in Uganda. Their efforts in improving access to hearing healthcare for young people in this area are inspirational and we wish them all the best in the future.”
Improving children’s quality of life
Since he launched the IHCC programme, the first of its kind in Uganda, Dr. Choudhury and his team have improved the hearing outcomes of underprivileged children. He reports that many of the patients that have attended the clinic have shown improved academic performance and mothers have expressed their joy to see the difference that hearing aids are making to the quality of their children’s lives.
Dr. Choudhury praises his team; from the voluntary UK audiology advisers who regularly go to Uganda to train staff, to the local audiologists and screeners on the ground who are dedicated to providing help to the children of Uganda.
He adds: “We have a brilliant team that is slowly growing and is being trained to offer a very high standard of care.”
For more information on the IHCC and their work, visit: www.ihcc.org.uk