Project Description HEAR AFRICA! - Extending educational opportunities for hearing impaired children in Africa

Improving the lives of hearing impaired children

HEAR Africa! is a project of the interdisciplinary, interfaculty research initiative “Leibniz Lab for Relational Communication Research“(Prof. Dr. habil. U. Lüdtke, Institute for Special Education, Department for Speech-Language Therapy and Inclusive Education; Prof. Dr. J. Ostermann & Prof. Dr. B. Rosenhahn, Institute for Information Technology). Project partners are the German Hearing Center (DHZ) of the Medical University Hannover (MHH) (Prof. Prof. h.c. Dr. med. Thomas Lenarz, Prof. Dr. Anke Lesinski-Schiedat, PD Dr. Angelika Illg), and the Tanzanian institutions Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS) in Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC) in Moshi and Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University (SEKOMU) in Lushoto. HEAR Africa! is funded by the Lower Saxony Ministry for Social Affairs, Health and Gender Equalities.

The project aims to extend life and education opportunities for hearing-impaired children in Tanzania by implementing and extending structures for medical and therapeutic care and professional qualification: in cooperation with the partner institutions, 5.000 neonates are examined via Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) to receive information about prevalence, comorbidities and risk factors for infant hearing impairment. The screeners - medical staff from the partner institutions - are trained in the field of hearing, hearing impairment and UNHS before performing the procedure for capacity building. Continuously, dissertations, final theses and student projects examine topics related to the project HEAR Africa! and develop information material about significance, diagnostics and therapy of hearing impairment.

The digitization strategy of HEAR Africa! has been developed in cooperation with the Institut for Information Technology, and has been integrated into the UNHS trainings. Current information is to be found on the website of Leibniz Lab for Relational Communication Research.

Planned Actions

HEAR Africa! efforts are first concentrated on Tanzania the partner country of the German state Lower Saxony.

Planned actions are:

  • Building and implementing an interdisciplinary network for screening, diagnosis and therapeutic care of hearing impaired children, e.g.:
    • Introducing newborn hearing screening
    • Implementing cochlea-implant care
    • Building up speech and language services for children with hearing impairment
  • Capacity building: Supporting existing institutions and structures caring for hearing impaired children (e.g.: training doctors, audiologists and speech and language therapists)

HEAR Africa! is a joined project of Leibniz Lab for Relational Communication Research and the German Hearing Centre at the Medical School Hannover (Prof. Thomas Lenarz and team).

HEAR AFRICA! Project Status

In 2019/2020 the HEAR AFRICA! pilot study is on its way. 5000 newborn babies are being examined within a newborn hearing screening which is implemented for the first time by our two collaborating partners (Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences - MUHAS and Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre - KCMC).