|UP officials and members of the UP side of the CHED-PCARI HeLe project conversing with UP’s project collaborators from UC Davis. Photo by Jun Madrid, UP MPRO.|
There are 8 babies that are born deaf every day in the Philippines according to a 2014 Census by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). 50% of cases of hearing loss are preventable, 32% due to cases of Rubella and 18% are caused by meningitis, infection, otitis media and ototoxicity.
8 to 40% of schoolchildren have some form of hearing loss and this is a real public health concern. The cost from Specialized Education, Specialized Care and loss of potential income during adulthood can be quantified at Php4.3 million pesos per child with deafness.
There is already a law, Republic Act 9709 that provides for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS), but less than 10% of babies are screened every year.
These are due to the following:
1. Limited number of facilities
2. Limited number of audiologists
3. Lack of certified hearing screeners
4. Patients do not return for follow ups
The Hearing for Life Project presents a solution that aims to address these problems. Increasing the rates of newborn screening utilizing Novel Technologies and Telehealth also known as HeLe is a collaboration by experts from institutions, biomedical device development, and eLearning both from the Philippines and California, USA.
The HeLe Project objectives are to develop the following:
1. Cost Effective hearing screening with telehealth capability for deployment in primary health care facilities and centers in the country.
2. Computer based training for health workers in remote and rural communities.
3. Telereferral system that connects the primary healthcare providers with specialists that will provide diagnostics and even hearing intervention services. This will enable the continuity of hearing care for Filipinos.
This will build the capacities of primary health care centers in screening and proper treatment of Filipinos with hearing problems, especially children
The HeLe projects is a collaboration between the Philippine National Ear Institute, University of California-Berkeley, UP Electrical and Electronics Engineering Institute and the University of California-Davis and the UP National Telehealth Center.