Addressing the neglect of childhood hearing impairment in developing countries

April 02, 2007

Although newborn babies in rich countries routinely have their hearing tested, the major global health agencies, such as the World Bank and Unicef, have not prioritized funding for newborn hearing tests in poor countries, writes Dr Bolajoko Olusanya (University of Lagos, Nigeria and University College London, UK) in PLoS Medicine.

"The number of children worldwide with hearing impairment is increasing," says Dr Olusanya, "and these children face a number of obstacles and burdens, given that spoken language is the predominant medium of communication and social interaction." Failure to detect hearing impairment and effectively manage it within the first year of life is linked with significant and irreversible deficits in speech and in linguistic, cognitive, and educational development, says the author.

In her policy paper, Dr Olusanya calls for the creation of new public-private partnerships to increase funding for neonatal hearing tests in developing countries. The inability of governments to cater for diverse health needs with limited budgets, she says, has led to a growing trend towards local public-private partnerships for health-care delivery in low- and middle-income countries, especially for the most vulnerable populations. Studies of pilot programs in countries such as Nigeria, South Africa, Malaysia, Brazil, and Poland have shown the effectiveness of different models of health care service delivery through public-private partnerships.

"However, the sustainability of these initiatives may be undermined by the continued lack of public sector support and the overwhelming preoccupation with fatal diseases by major actors in global health," says the author. "Since infant hearing screening is now routinely provided in developed countries, failure to extend such a program to developing countries where about 90% of children with permanent hearing impairment live will only exacerbate health inequalities between the rich and poor nations of the world."
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Everything published by PLoS Medicine is Open Access: freely available for anyone to read, download, redistribute and otherwise use, as long as the authorship is properly attributed.

Citation: Olusanya BO (2007) Addressing the global neglect of childhood hearing impairment in developing countries. PLoS Med 4(4): e74.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040074

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-04-04-olusanya.pdf

CONTACT:
Bolajoko Olusanya
University College London
Institute of Child Health
30 Guilford Street
London, WC1N 1EH
United Kingdom
b.olusanya@ich.ucl.ac.uk

THE FOLLOWING RESEARCH ARTICLES WILL ALSO BE PUBLISHED ONLINE:

Gene expression signatures that reflect prior radiation exposure in mice and humans

John Chute and colleagues report that gene expression patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from mice and humans reflect prior radiation exposure.

Citation: Citation: Dressman HK, Muramoto GG, Chao NJ, Meadows S, Marshall D, et al. (2007) Gene expression signatures that predict radiation exposure in mice and humans. PLoS Med 4(4): e106.

PLEASE ADD THE LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://medicine.plosjournals.org/perlserv/?request=get-document&doi=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040106

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: http://www.plos.org/press/plme-04-04-chute.pdf

CONTACT:
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Duke University Medical Center
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