News Release

Church Donates R1.8-million in Audiology Equipment for Western Cape Rural Clinics

Audiologists servicing rural clinics with scant equipment in the Western Cape will be kitted up with state-of-the-art hearing aids and repair kits.

Written by Nicole Perry

Hearing impaired people living in rural areas of the Western Cape will soon have access to state-of-the-art audiology equipment and hearing aids, thanks to a funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in collaboration with the Western Cape Department of Health. Church and health officials met on Friday, 21 October 2022, at a handover ceremony held at the Drakenstein Municipality in Paarl.

The comprehensive donation includes 136 different types of hearing aids which can be programmed using high-tech equipment depending on a patient’s type or degree of hearing loss. In addition, audiologists visiting clinics throughout the region now have the use of twenty-one brand new portable repair tool boxes, fully stocked with tools and supplies, vital for making immediate minor repairs to hearing aids. Dr Lizette Phillips, Chief Director of the Rural Health Services at the Western Cape Department of Health thanked the Church and promised that “the government would be good stewards of rural health services in utilising the donation for its intended purposes.” Audiologists serving rural communities were burdened by diagnostic audiology equipment that was too old to be repaired and needed urgent replacement.

Ms Megan Davis-Ferguson, Assistant Director of the Service Priorities Coordination, highlighted the impact of automated brainstem response equipment, otherwise known as “Brainstem Auditory Evoked Potentials” (BAEP), used for non-invasive testing of mostly newborn infants to measure the brainstem’s response to sound. She said, “It’s incredibly important to pick up hearing loss in babies as early as possible…which is very important for further management of language, educational and social development.” For some rural districts it will be the first time using this important tool to provide a new screening service for infants.

David Nkosi, a member from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared how remarkable it was to witness the joy of a four-year-old child being able to hear for the first time. He quoted Mosiah 2:17, “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.'' When government agencies, the Church, civic services and families collaborate together they can be agents of change, he said. Mr Nkosi added, “There are miracles in helping each other. Today, this [donation] will make someone from somewhere that couldn’t hear be able to hear. Christ will be glorified because it's through Him and His teachings that this is given.”

Unavailability of equipment has required patients to travel to major metro centres for testing They are burdened by transport problems can create long waiting times for patients. Dr Phillips, said, “The Rural Health services have for a very long time had to fight for resources for our very under-resourced communities. Communities who have limited access to basic services and who often due to the tyranny of distance also experience additional challenges as far as access is concerned.” Kirsty Campodonico, an audiologist who works at Paarl hospital, confirmed the massive backlog, saying, “We are sitting with a waiting period of 6-9 months… we have around 105 patients waiting at the moment.”

Ms Davis-Ferguson thanked The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for being so willing to listen to the delivery challenges of audiologists servicing the hearing-impaired community. She said, “What is so encouraging about this donation is that it is tailored specifically to each district’s needs… we will see the impact for a long time going forward.”

Ms Freeman echoed these sentiments. She said she often receives heart-warming messages of thanksgiving from individual beneficiaries and said she couldn’t wait to see the impact this donation would have on those who would be receiving hearing aids.

This project is worth approximately R1,8-million (about US$103, 000) and hopes to reach some of the underserved members of the 4-million deaf and hard-of-hearing people in South Africa.

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