Scores of Jamaican children with hearing impairment have been given the gift of hearing through the efforts of the Starkey Hearing Foundation and MP, Juliet Holness.
They were presented with free, custom-made hearing aids, during a special mission by the charity, at the Chinese Benevolent Association in St. Andrew on Tuesday (March 3).
Starkey has been working in Jamaica since 2017, with annual missions to Kingston and St. James, aimed at reaching Jamaicans with hearing challenges.
The programme of support entails identifying and evaluating patients, then taking moulds or impressions for the hearing aids and returning to the island to fit persons with the devices.
“By the end of today, 2,400 Jamaicans will be able to hear. It brings tears to my eyes very often.”— Juliet Holness
Patients benefit from regular aftercare, where they receive counselling and support on the care of the devices at no cost to them.
Mrs Holness, in her address at the World Hearing Day handover ceremony, commended the United States-based charity for the support provided to Jamaicans with hearing impairment over the years.
She noted that many persons could not afford the hefty price tag of approximately $200,000 to acquire a hearing aid, including doing moulds.
“By the end of today, 2,400 Jamaicans will be able to hear. It brings tears to my eyes very often. Thank you for finding the time and a solution that suits our country and our people. We are eternally grateful,” Mrs Holness added.
Assessing children with hearing difficulty
She noted that hearing difficulty is a major challenge for students that affects their academic performance, and has committed to maintaining a partnership with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, so that other children, who have not yet been assisted, will be reached.
“I decided that every Jamaican who needs to hear, who cannot afford a hearing aid, will be able to hear because I’m going to give the Starkey Foundation my entire effort,” she pledged.
Mrs Holness said that in addition to assisting Jamaican families in a major way, the work of the Starkey Foundation is supporting the government healthcare policy.
“I decided that every Jamaican who needs to hear, who cannot afford a hearing aid, will be able to hear…”— Juliet Holness
“What is good about all the work of the Starkey Hearing Foundation is that it has helped us to not reinvent the wheel.
“So the (Health and Wellness) Ministry… will now be able to draw on all the data, the documentation, the work done by the Starkey Hearing Foundation to ensure that Jamaica’s healthcare policy encompasses the best of everything we need to offer the best hearing healthcare and ensure that we have not missed anything,” she said.