Audiology Training Initiated
Ethiopia, a country of 120 million people, has no audiologists, no audiology training program, and all the professional hearing expertise is concentrated in one person – a hearing aid specialist who trained and practiced in the United States. There is a lot more to testing hearing than just listening for beeps. Speech testing is an important part of diagnosing and planning any type of re-habilitation. Well, there were no word recognition testing materials. No single syllables lists for word recognition scores. No lists of spondees for speech reception thresholds. No sentences for cochlear implant candidacy.
Through the work of 4 ENT residents at St. Paul’s Hospital and Millennium Medical College, these phonetically balanced materials were developed in late 2016. Drs. Addis Asfaw and Dr. Kassaw Ketemaw created the lists in the national language, Amharic. Dr. Bizuayehu Girma created the same in Oromiffa, the second most widely spoken language. And Dr. Zenabu Molla created the lists in the third most widely spoken language, Tigringna. These lists were then recorded by native speakers in Chicago, and calibrated by Auditec company in St. Louis to produce the very first lists and recordings for word recognition testing. In addition, Dr. Gabrielle Cager AUD at UIC was able to travel to Ethiopia in October 2017 to introduce all the St. Paul’s residents how to perform audiometry and introduce word recognition testing to Ethiopia.
With the identification of a reliable online partner for training in South Africa, 3 sites for audiometry training have been initiated. Four individuals at the East African Hearing Aid Center in Addis Ababa will learn how to perform audiometry and at the end of 18 months, will receive a University of Illinois Section of Otology/Neurotology Certificate of Completion for Ethiopian Audiometry. We are particularly excited about these 2 motivated trainees at the East African Hearing Aid Company – Mr. Abel Shimeles an operating room nurse who was instrumental in the first cochlear implant in Ethiopia in December 2016; and Ms. Yemiserach Teketel also a nurse, whose father, Mr. Teketel Alemayehu, received the third Ethiopian cochlear implant in May 2017.
The second training site is at the Ethiopian Women with Disabilities National Association, and empowerment center for support, job training and job placement for Ethiopian women with physical, visual, hearing, and cognitive disabilities. This group, spearheaded by their director, Ms. Dibabe Bacha have designated space and identified 3 trainees to learn how to perform audiometry and to receive 6 months’ post-training job placement, and to ultimately receive the Certificate of Completion for Ethiopian Audiometry. The first trainees are Ms. Bezawit Worku, Ms. Martha Zenebe and Ms. Tersite Ayelew. Laptops, audiometer, tympanometer, internet access, IT support, and transportation to the training sites was all donated. The ultimate goal to provide training, testing and rehabilitative services at the same site.
The third training site is Mekelle University – a well-run school and hospital which is located 400 miles north of Addis Ababa. The first 4 trainees are Drs. Andom Geremew, Dessalegn Berihu, Filmawit Gebremeskel and Saed Temam who are just beginning their second years of otolaryngology training.
The goal is to take these 11 graduates and recruit them as trainers for the next wave of audiometry training, including ….. the Mekelle University Masters in Audiology! This program, being designed for submission to the Ministry of Health, will be directed by Dr. Cager and will be the first Audiology training program in Ethiopia. Expected start date is January 2019. (Not bad work for one year!)
Anyone who is interested in supporting audiology training in Ethiopia through time, money, equipment donation, and most importantly face-to-face instruction – please contact Professor Redleaf.