Our club members discussed why don’t we implement a project to prevent people from becoming disabled, can we change their whole life and is there anything we can do for them after we complete projects for hearing-impaired and movement-impaired people. At that time, a new member Dr. Misheelt, an ENT doctor, explained to us that early detection of hearing-impaired and early treatment and cochlear implant surgery can give them the opportunity to be able to listen as well as speak. At that time, it is not possible to do the hearing screening of every newborn in Mongolia so they are left with the only option of being hearing-impaired because it is too late to receive all possible treatments when they notice about it. Our club members realized that this project could completely change people’s lives, so we decided to implement this project. We raised US$6,000 by organizing fundraising events twice in March and June 2014.
Hearing impairment is one of the most common congenital birth defects and through public health intervention it can be resolved. There are 79,000 births annually on average in the last 5 years in Mongolia. By WHO estimate there are 2-5 babies born with hearing impairment from mild to a severe degree per 1,000 live births.
There are three critical elements that are essential for children with hearing loss to learn to listen and talk: early identification (ideally within 6 months after birth), access to appropriate hearing technology, and the support of locally-based trained professionals in pediatric audiology and early intervention. These three elements are not currently widely available in Mongolia. The Mongolian medical community recognizes a need to develop and implement a national hearing screening program (Mongolia Ministry of Health decree number 182) and increase expertise among medical and therapy professionals to support the needs of babies and children identified with hearing loss.
SSW is to introduce the universal newborn hearing screening and early intervention in Mongolia. The Rotary Club of Ulaanbaatar Peace Avenue in collaboration with the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss, the Rotary Club of Seattle as well as other Rotary clubs in the US provided 8 basic hearing screening devices and 2 second-stage screening devices to all 7 birthing and tertiary hospitals of Ulaanbaatar city. The main implementing organization is the National Center for Maternal and Child Health.
The Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss and other generous donors and professionals from the USA and Canada provided once or twice a year for professional developmental training for ENT doctors, audiologists, residents doctors and doctors from rural areas etc. Technical support and the hands-on training was provided from the National Center for Maternal and Child Health and Path Medical who provided the screening devices.
An essential part of universal hearing screening is to educate caregivers and parents. Parents’ nights/days were organized once a year. Since everyone in the family is important to the baby’s development, especially in developing language and social skills the parents and caregivers meet and exchange their experience and get support from the professionals.