By Staff Reporter 22/07/2014
Former President, Dr. Joyce Banda hailed the Starkey Hearing Foundation for the work it is doing in Malawi in helping people with hearing problems and impairment. The Former President was speaking on Saturday, 19th July, at the Starkey’s Hearing Foundation Founders’ Day in Minnesota, USA where she made a key note address.
The Starkey Hearing Foundation which partners the Joyce Banda Foundation as a local partner in Malawi, helps to restore hearing to people with hearing impairment and problems through ear treatment and providing free hearing aids. Speaking at the event, the Former President pointed out that hearing impairment is one of the most serious deprivations in mankind. She argued that people with hearing impairment constitute one of the most disadvantaged and marginalized segments in our societies.
A segment that is not only marginalized but also ignored in many of our societies and subjected to all forms of stigma and abuse because in many societies, hearing impairment is a condition that has long been regarded as irreversible. Dr. Banda pointed out that children with hearing impairment are the hardest hit. “Compared with other children, children with hearing impairment are more at greater risk of illiteracy and poverty. They are the ones who will most likely never go to school due to lack of necessary facilities and systems”. She commended the Starkey Foundation arguing that the Foundation has given hope to the hopeless; a smile to those denied a smile as the Foundation makes it possible for people with hearing impairment to hear again. Argued Banda “thanks to Starkey: that person in the village with hearing impairment can now hear and that child who couldn’t go to school because of hearing impairment can now go to school because he/she can hear”
In March of this year, Starkey Hearing Foundation completed a Phase 2 hearing mission in Malawi, fitting 1937 children and adults with hearing aids. Since 2009 to date, a total of 8,269 people with hearing problems in Malawi have been served and a total of 16,526 free hearing aids have been fitted. All the Starkey patients in Malawi have monthly access to follow-up care where patients can receive additional counseling, batteries and services to replace or repair hearing aids and earmolds when needed. Banda called upon the Starkey Hearing Foundation to expand its mission to Malawi particularly in rural areas so that more and more people with hearing impairment and problems can be reached. The market value for one set of hearing aid in Malawi is K450, 000.00).
Banda stressed on the need for African governments to move issues concerning people with disabilities to the mainstream of government policies and programmes. She pointed out that unless “we address issues and challenges affecting people with special needs, attainment of sustainable and equitable development will remain a dream.
The Founder’s Day is an annual gathering which brings together Starkey Hearing Foundations’ Partners from all over the world. These include Governments, the private sector and non government organizations. This year’s event was among others attended by Hilary Clinton, Former US Secretary of State, South African Anti-apartheid icon and Nobel peace laureate Bishop Desmond Tutu, Forest Whitaker, Health Experts and Former Heads of States.
The official launching event for the 2014 Starkey Hearing Foundation Malawi mission took place in February this year at the Statehouse at the invitation of the Former President Dr. Joyce Banda. At this event, 100 people with hearing impairment were fitted with free hearing aids.