Newswatch reports from around the globe

Here’s a quick look at some hearing-related news from beyond the U.S. borders. The first comes from our northern neighbor:

Tips for hearing-friendly holiday gatherings

VICTORIA, BC—With gatherings of families and friends being planned for much of the world during the upcoming Christmas holiday season, those with hearing loss are at risk of being left out of the joy and conviviality. That’s why Connect Hearing, Canada’s largest network of hearing professionals, has come up with this list of tips for those hosting such get-togethers to enable persons with hearing loss to join in the fun.

•Make eye contact and speak clearly to avoid a muffled voice.

•Reduce background chatter by engaging everyone in one conversation.

•Keep background noises like music at low volumes.

•Reduce the sound of clattering dishes with a tablecloth or placemats.

•Seat people with hearing loss so they are backing onto a quiet, open space.

•Ask guests if the hearing situation can be improved.

•Make a quiet area available where anyone may take a break from a boisterous gathering.

 

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Meanwhile in India, a report that the government purchased a $9500 hearing aid for a state official created a stir.

$9500 hearing aid raises Indians’ ire

BANGALORE, INDIA—Complaints about the high price of hearing aids are commonly heard wherever consumers pay for their own. While those who make and dispense the devices offer a number of explanations for their price, it’s hard to see how anyone could justify what was reported last Saturday in Daily News & Analysis, an Indian e-newspaper.

According to the article, the state government of Karnataka paid the deputy chairman of the state planning board, based in Bangalore, 5 lakh rupees to pay for his new hearing aid. Lakh is an Indian term for 100,000, and 500,000 rupees is worth about $9500.

Word of the high-priced hearing aid came up during a budget debate in the state legislature, where it was also revealed that the official, Ramachandra Gowda, had been given two lakh rupees (about $3800) to cover his cellphone expenses.

India’s economy is growing fast and Bangalore, the high-tech capitol of the nation, is leading the way. However, in a nation where the average annual per capita income is only $3800, the government’s willingness to pay more than double that to buy a hearing aid for an official has not gone over well. Siddaramaiah, the leader of the opposition party in the legislature, said, “A whopping 5 lakh for a hearing aid? I cannot believe it. “What is the necessity (for this)?”

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For quite some time, U.S. News and World Report has been touting audiology as one of the best careers for young Americans to go into. Among the reasons given is the shortage of people in that profession compared to the growing need for their services. If the editors of that journal thought there was an unmet demand for audiologists in this country, imagine what they would have said about the audiology market in Ireland, as reported in the following article from the December 13 issue of the Irish Medical Times.

 

Looking for an audiology position? Consider Ireland

GALWAY, IRELAND—After years of unsuccessful efforts, the Republic of Ireland’s Health Service Executive reported last week that it is close to hiring senior audiologists in Galway, the main city in the West of Ireland, and Cork, the largest city in the South. The Health Service Executive (Feidhmeannacht na Seirbhíse Sláinte, in Gaelic) is responsible for providing publicly funded healthcare services for everyone living in Ireland.

The HSE attributed the long delay in making the appointments to two factors: an international shortage of audiologists and a public service moratorium on recruitment, resulting from the country’s financial crisis.

In the absence of a senior audiologist, the waiting list for audiologic services in Cork had grown to 2814, people, including 1304 children, according to Lloyd Mudiwa of the Irish Medical Times. Those on the list had to wait for up to a year to have their hearing tested and to be fitted with hearing aids. In Galway, more than 1000 children had to wait for more than a year for an appointment.

Although the long-vacant positions have not yet been filled, the HSE has substantially cut waiting times for pediatric patients. In Galway the number of children waiting has been reduced from 1305 in January 2011 to 536 in September. The average wait for an initial hearing assessment has been cut to 4 weeks, from 6 to 9 months. To do that, the national health program has contracted with private providers and focused its own audiologists on pediatric patients.

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