Stäfa, Switzerland — The Hear the World Foundation, the charitable foundation set up by Phonak, contributed more than $200,000 in 2010 in support of global projects for people with hearing loss. Project submissions are now open for 2011.

The Foundation’s 2010 funding has helped provide hearing instruments and financial support to organizations in Switzerland, as well as in developing countries, enabling children to regain their sense of hearing. The full 2010 Activity Report is available to be downloaded online.

The 2010 projects reflect the Foundation’s commitment to helping relieve hearing loss challenges in developing countries. When hearing loss is left untreated, there can be serious economic and social consequences in these regions. For adults, hearing loss may mean ostracism from the working world. In addition, children without a good sense of hearing can experience difficulties in learning to speak and have deficiencies in age-related development.

In selecting projects to support, the Hear the World Foundation places a strong emphasis on sustainability. This means, for example, that in addition to providing hearing instruments and fittings, regular follow-up checks by audiologists or medical specialists and a continuous supply of batteries must also be guaranteed. For children in particular, supplementary measures, such as speech therapy to ensure speech development at an age-appropriate rate, are also often necessary.

One of the projects supported in 2010 was its “52 Children” project, in which the Foundation selects 52 disadvantaged children per year from all over the world and offers them the chance to improve their hearing. Last summer, a 4-year-old boy from Iraq was given specialist assessments, as well as hearing instruments, at the Children’s Hospital Zurich. His follow-up care in Iraq is organized by a local Phonak representative. Thanks to this support , the boy is now able to learn and develop his abilities to an optimum extent.

Another project supported in 2010 was a Canadian initiative that imparts knowledge and provides practical experience to Ugandan physicians. The goal was to help these physicians acurately diagnose and treat hearing loss, which, in many cases, has been caused by the improper use of quinine. Quinine is often used as a fever-reducing medication for treating malaria, but incorrect dosages of this drug can cause damage to hearing.

Valentin Chapero, president of the Hear the World Foundation and CEO of Phonak, commented in the press announcement, “Hearing instruments not only enable these children to communicate and integrate into society, they also help improve their ability to follow what they are being taught and make the most of their full learning potential. The aim of our commitment is to help give children affected by hearing loss, especially those in developing countries, the chance to have a worthwhile future.”

For 2011, the Hear the World Foundation is now accepting submissions of projects. Proposals must deal with the issue of hearing loss, or contribute toward its prevention, or work to dispel the stigma of hearing loss, or offer concrete support to people and families affected by hearing loss. The submission period for 2011 is open until April 30. Further details are available online.

SOURCE: The Hear the World Foundation