WBO World Heavyweight Champion, Joseph Parker, (OM) has lent his support to Bay Audiology’s ‘Free to Ear - Samoa’ programme that will help restore hearing to thousands in need in his homeland.
In Samoa there are currently around 4,000 people who have untreated hearing issues. The country has no qualified audiologists and limited access to ear nose and throat specialists, meaning many of those with hearing issues are left untreated.
The Bay Audiology programme returns to Apia for the second year in early August and will see hundreds of people screened for hearing problems and fitted with donated hearing aids.
The team was inundated on their first visit in 2016 with hundreds of people arriving for the hearing check, including an entire classroom of children. Bay Audiology is partnering with local health NGO SENESE who have also been trained in the maintenance of hearing aids and ongoing screening to provide continued support after their visits.
Joseph Parker visited SENESE on a recent trip home to Samoa earlier this year. Parker said, “Living in New Zealand, I’m lucky enough to have access to an audiologist or hearing specialist should I ever need it.
People in Samoa currently don’t have the same access to the hearing health services we take for granted in New Zealand, which is why programmes like this are so important.”
“While I feel very fortunate to have good hearing today, in the past I have experienced temporary hearing loss. After a Championship fight, I was punched so hard in the left ear, I wasn’t able to hear anything out of my ear at all for over a fortnight.
Having temporary hearing loss made me feel isolated and distant from everyone – friends, family and my community. It made me appreciate my hearing even more when it did return. It also gave me a small insight into what it would be like to live with hearing loss long-term.
So, I wanted to do whatever I could to encourage people to come forward and seek assistance.” Naomi Asi, Acting Director of SENESE said, "We have over 4,000 people here that we know of who suffer with mild to severe hearing loss and we have no one in Samoa who specializes in hearing care.
Half the cases we see would be treated easily with hearing aids.”
The impact of untreated hearing impairment on lives can be immense. In children, untreated hearing loss can interfere with development of speech, which impacts on a child’s ability to learn and can often lead to behavioural and social problems.
In adults, the inability to communicate, along with other factors such as the stigma of disability can result in social isolation and inability to gain or maintain employment.”
Asi continued, “For those who suffer from hearing loss, they become very self-conscious - they stop attending church, they stop going to school, and they fall behind in their community.
Our hope is that with the strong support of Joseph Parker, we will see more people come forward to get help and get back to enjoying a full life again." Bay Audiology, Managing Director Dean Lawrie added, “We are extremely grateful to have Joseph’s support for this very important initiative. It is wonderful to see our Free to Ear – Samoa programme continue to grow.
Thanks to our partners SENESE and all of our New Zealand customers who have donated hearing aids. It is thanks to them that we have been able to restore the hearing and transform the lives of hundreds and we hope eventually, thousands of people.”
“If you are living in New Zealand and currently experiencing hearing issues, Bay Audiology offers free hearing checks to anyone over 18. Should you find you need hearing aids, Bay Audiology will work with you to find the right hearing solution for your budget.
In addition, there are various types of government assistance available.
Hearing health services for children under 18 are free and can be accessed via your GP.”