Our mission is to promote early hearing detection and intervention in developing countries pursuant to:
I. The resolution of the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed in May 1995 which inter-alia states as follows:
“The Forty-eighth World Assembly,
Concerned at the growing problem of largely preventable hearing impairment in the world, where at present 120 million* people are estimated to have disabling hearing difficulties;
Recognizing that severe hearing impairment constitutes a particularly serious obstacle to optimal development and education, including language acquisition, and that hearing difficulties leading to communication problems are a major subject of concern in the elderly and thus one of growing worldwide importance in view of the aging population;
Aware of the significant public health aspects of avoidable hearing loss, related to causes such as congenital disorders and infectious diseases, as well as use of ototoxic drugs and exposure to excessive noise;
Noting the persistent inadequacy of resources for hearing impairment prevention, despite the increasing commitment of international non-governmental organizations,
a). URGES Member States:
- to prepare national plans for the prevention and control of major causes of avoidable hearing loss, and for the early detection in babies, toddlers, and children, as well as in the elderly, within the framework of primary health care.
- to consider the setting-up of mechanisms for collaboration with non-governmental organisations for support to, and coordination of, action to prevent hearing impairment at country level, including the detection of hereditary factors, by genetic counselling.
II. UNICEF’s policy on early childhood development which now seeks to support all children “excluded and made invisible” by disabilities .
III. UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) till 2015 for the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger (MDG 1) and the achievement of universal primary education (MDG 2) .
Programmes for the primary prevention of the many risk factors associated with childhood hearing loss are limited for reasons that are difficult to resolve in the near future. It is therefore hoped that the Soundstart4all initiative will serve as a model to other non-governmental organisations to cater for babies, infants and toddlers who will unavoidably become hearing-impaired in their crucial years of early childhood development.
- World Health Organisation. Prevention of hearing impairment. Resolution of the 48th World Assembly, WHA 48.9; 1995. Geneva.
- UNICEF. State of the world’s children 2006. New York.2005.
- United Nations Statistics Division (2005) Millennium indicators database. New York: United Nations Statistics Division. http://millenniumindicators.un.org/unsd/mi/mi_goals.asp.
*WHO latest estimate is 278 million.