GN Store Nord has created an initiative to help impoverished people in South Africa suffering from hearing loss. GN has donated 6,600 hearing aids to two provinces, Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, to significantly improve he quality of life for people who cannot otherwise afford a hearing aid.
To make the program successful, GN has entered into a partnership with BroadReach Healthcare, based in South Africa, and key personnel at each of the public health departments of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal. Just in the KwaZulu-Natal province, there is a waiting list for hearing aids of more than 2,000 people, and some people have been on the waiting list for over four years. In the Gauteng province, the waiting list consists of around 1800 people.
Prior to the launch of the program, two of GN’s senior audiologists trained 65 local audiologists from 41 health facilities across Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, making them capable of fitting the hearing aids professionally. The on-site training of South African audiologists has enabled them to make the proper selection and perform the best fitting for each patient.
Throughout the duration of the donation program, GN will continue to send audiologists free of charge to train local audiologists in South Africa to ensure a high level of user satisfaction.
On January 15, the program was officially launched at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in the Soweto township of Johannesburg. One of the patients fitted was 58 year old Bongani Jeffrey Malekane. Bongani has been suffering from a sensori-neural hearing loss for more than 10 years, and while his hearing impairment got progressively worse year-by-year he was not able to get a hearing aid due to lack of public funding. With his new hearing aids, GN ReSound Metrix Power Behind-the-Ear (BTE), Bongani is able to live a normal life, keep a job and enjoy social activities.
Bongani says: “For ten years my hearing impairment continued to get worse, and I nearly lost all hope – I used to try to avoid people because of the embarrassment. Now I’m happy again because to really live you have got to be able to communicate”.