Local NGO All Ears Cambodia is providing free, high-quality digital hearing aids to children under the age of 18 who are experiencing hearing loss.
The initiative aims to improve the lives of children with hearing impairments by enhancing their communication abilities and overall well-being.
“Any child presenting with hearing loss that is suitable for hearing aids will have the opportunity to be fitted with hearing instruments,” said Ros Bunnareth, All Ears Cambodia’s manager of clinical services in Phnom Penh.
All Ears Cambodia provides services to all Cambodians, from new-borns to the elderly.
Bunnareth said the majority of children who qualify for the program have irreversible sensorineural (inner ear) hearing loss, with a moderate-to-severe level.
Bunnareth highlighted that the three-year-project – which began last year – is offering top-of-the-line Swiss hearing instruments produced by Phonak, a renowned manufacturer of digital hearing aids.
There are two main types available: one for children with mild-to-severe hearing loss and another for those with severe-to-profound hearing loss. The comprehensive range ensures that children with varying degrees of hearing loss can benefit from the programme.
Bunnareth said, All Ears Cambodia also extends its support to children with mild or profound hearing loss albeit in smaller numbers.
“It is important to note that children with hearing loss caused by infection, such as chronic middle ear disease, are not suitable candidates for hearing aids,” she explained.
“In such cases, appropriate medical treatment or surgery should be pursued. Similarly, children with very profound hearing loss may not benefit from hearing aids, and alternative solutions like sign language or cochlear implants may be recommended,” she added.
The comprehensive process of hearing assessments and hearing aid fittings will be carried out by a team of local Khmer clinicians under the supervision of a qualified British audiologist.
This collaboration ensures that children receive the highest standard of care and attention throughout the entire process.
One of the reassuring aspects for parents and guardians is that there are no known side effects to wearing hearing aids.
“While there may be an adjustment period as the child adapts to using the hearing instruments, there are no adverse short- or long-term effects associated with their use,” said Bunnareth.
She added that hearing loss in children can significantly impact speech and language acquisition, cognitive development, educational progress, and psychological well-being.
The effects can even extend into adulthood, limiting vocational and economic opportunities. Therefore, early intervention is crucial in identifying hearing loss in children at the earliest possible stage and, when necessary, providing them with hearing aids.
Parents or guardians of children with hearing impairments or suspected hearing impairments are encouraged to contact All Ears Cambodia to register their children for this programme.