Children and adolescents with ear and hearing disabilities will receive improved health care and services closer to home

07 December 2023
 doctor and a parent are conducting a hearing aid test on a child. The doctor, with expertise in audiology, carefully fits the hearing aid on the child while the parent stands nearby, offering comforting reassurance.
UNICEF/2023/Iyakaremye
A doctor and a parent are conducting a hearing aid test on a child. The doctor, with expertise in audiology, carefully fits the hearing aid on the child.

KIGALI, 6 December 2023 – Today, Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC), ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology, and UNICEF Rwanda launched the Ear and Hearing Care (EHC) – Winsiga Ndumva Program on Disability Inclusive (DI) primary health care services to improve the lives of children and adolescents with disabilities in Huye District, Rwanda.

RBC, ATscale, and UNICEF are pleased to announce the launch of the EHC Programme in Rwanda to enhance disability-inclusive primary healthcare services for children and adolescents with disabilities. The continuing partnership between the three organisations aims to scale up and strengthen ear and hearing in eight districts over three years.

The primary beneficiaries of the EHC programme are children 0-18 years, who will be identified from the community, health facilities, schools, and parents/caregivers in Nyagatare, Nyarugenge, Huye, Nyabihu, Musanze, Rwamagana, Rusizi, and Muhanga, districts. 

By the end of the programme, it is estimated that more than 9,400 children will be screened, and 1,200 with hearing impairment will be provided with digital hearing aids. Family members of these children and teachers from special schools for children with hearing impairment are secondary beneficiaries as they support children’s learning, provide day-to-day guidance, and supervise gadgets.

The EHC programme will be implemented by RBC, health facilities, community health workers, and the Umbrella of Organizations of Persons with Disabilities in the Fight against HIV&AIDS and for Health Promotion (UPHLS), in close collaboration with local government authorities, with plans in place to fully institutionalise the programme within existing government health systems and structures.

Key interventions include a review and update of health policies/strategies to integrate components of ear and hearing care; capacity building of health providers pre-screening to identify children with hearing impairment, and screening to categorize children to be treated and those to be provided with hearing aids; provision of equipment to enable assessment, diagnosis, and programming of hearing aids; community mobilisation and engagement; digital hearing aids; and strengthening institutionalization of ear and hearing care, with a focus on primary healthcare settings. 

“Today marks a significant step forward in our collective commitment to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to thrive. The launch of the Ear and Hearing Care Programme is a testament to the power of partnerships in transforming the lives of children and adolescents with disabilities.

We are thrilled to support the specific needs of children and adolescents with hearing impairments by providing digital assistive technology, which opens doors to communication, education, and a brighter future. UNICEF is proud to stand alongside our valued partners, the Government of Rwanda, ATscale, the organizations of persons with disabilities, and the communities in this endeavour. Together, we strive to create a more inclusive society where every child's dream to flourish is realised”, says Julianna Lindsey, UNICEF Representative in Rwanda.

“As we move forward and continue to celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities in 2023 with the theme "United in action to rescue and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals for, with, and by persons with disabilities, let us commit to building a society where persons with disabilities, especially young people and adolescents, are not only included but truly valued and empowered. Let us create a world where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and contribute to the betterment of our society,” said Dr Francois Uwinkindi, Head of Non-Communicable Diseases Division at the Rwanda Biomedical Centre/Ministry of Health.

“ATscale is a young initiative, and Rwanda is one of the first countries we have partnered with. I feel very optimistic about the growing momentum I have seen here this week. Thanks to this programme, children and adolescents with hearing impairments will get the assistive technology they need to participate in education, work, and social life,” said Satish Mishra, Head of Markets and Global Programmes, ATscale.

Since 2021, UNICEF, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health/RBC and in partnership with UPHLS, has been supporting the pre-screening, screening, and assessment of children with hearing impairment and fitting of hearing aids in four pilot districts of Nyagatare, Nyarugenge, Huye, and Nyabihu. During this period, 118 staff, including national champions, teachers, and healthcare providers from hospitals and health centers, were trained to manage children with hearing impairments.  As a result, 984 children were assessed, 154 children were treated, and 393 children were fitted with digital hearing aids.

Furthermore, the provision of digital hearing aids has brought about transformative changes in the lives of children with hearing impairments. Formerly isolated and excluded, these children can now communicate with others, achieve academic success, and seamlessly integrate into inclusive schools. The programme launched today will build on the successful pilot project and scale up the Winsiga Ndumva EHC programme to eight districts.

 

About Rwanda Biomedical Centre

Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) is the nation's central health implementation agency.

RBC was established in 2011 through a merger of fourteen key health institutions. RBC strives to improve the health of the Rwandan population by providing high quality, affordable and sustainable health care services. This is accomplished through the implementation of preventative, rehabilitative, and curative health interventions.

RBC conducts scientific research, provides diagnostics services, and implements innovative health interventions to protect the nation against diseases and other health threats.

Follow RBC on Twitter, Facebook and Flickr

 

About ATscale

ATscale, the Global Partnership for Assistive Technology, is a cross-sector partnership with a mission to transform people’s lives through assistive technology. It catalyses action to ensure that, by 2030, an additional 500 million people in low- and middle-income countries get the life-changing assistive technology they need.

For more information, please contact:

Mr Julien M. Niyingabira, Health Communications Division Manager, RBC Tel: +250 788 606 072, Julien.niyingabira@rbc.gov.rw

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Notes to editors:

Total budget from ATscale  for the three years is $1,200,372.

Media contacts

Nidhi Joshi
Chief of Communications, Advocacy and Partnerships
UNICEF Rwanda
Tel: +250 788 301 419

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and well-being of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Rwanda, visit www.unicef.org/rwanda.

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