J. Douglas Green Jr., MD, FACS, presented a program to the members of Northside Rotary on his mission work with Hearing Help For Africa, a nonprofit based in Jacksonville, FL. Dr. Green has visited the 150-bed Evangel Hospital in Jos, Nigeria, multiple times throughout the past decade to provide medical and surgical care of patients with ear, nose and throat problems. Through this initial work, it was determined that special ear care was needed, as well as an upgrade to the existing medical facilities and more specialized equipment for the treatment of hearing loss. In fact, companies donate cochlear implants to be surgically inserted in patients at the Nigerian hospital. Subsequently, these implants can be programmed, along with hearing aids and implantable hearing devices, from Dr. Green’s Jacksonville office more than 5,900 miles away from Nigeria!
Hearing loss is extremely common in Africa and the developing world, with roughly double the incidence present in the United States. Patients with disabling hearing loss in Africa have no societal safety nets to help provide for their basic needs. Consequently, patients with hearing loss are generally unable to find gainful employment, and as a result, suffer extreme poverty, hopelessness and even death. Roughly half the patients suffering from hearing loss are the needless victims of a preventable type of hearing loss, only adding to the tragedy.
Sub-Saharan Africa makes up what is sometimes regarded as the “meningitis belt of Africa,” with surviving meningitis patients commonly left with a profound hearing loss. The common use of medications toxic to the inner ear (aminoglycoside antibiotics, antimalarial quinine and others) results in countless patients being hospitalized with a febrile illness and left totally deaf. Hearing loss from untreated infections of the ear is also commonly preventable.
Another focus of the successful nonprofit is to provide African medical professionals the education necessary to run the Temporal Bone Laboratory at the Jos hospital. Plans for a graduate level Audiology and Speech Pathology Program at Jos University Teaching Hospital are being developed and an Oral/Auditory School for the deaf is also in the planning stages.
You are invited to join the group of people who have given The Gift of Hearing through personal or corporate donations to Hearing Help for Africa. This tax-deductible donation provides priceless hearing healthcare for both children and adults. Just imagine a child hearing his or her mother for the very first time. Gifts also cover operational and website costs, travel, and medical and surgical equipment. Giving the gift of sound is a wonderful opportunity to change someone’s life. For further information, go to www.HearingHelpForAfrica.org.