hearX tech featured in 3 new World Health Organization Bulletin articles
A 2-minute smartphone test can identify hearing and vision problems before children even start school according to new research article, “Smartphone technology helps young children with hearing and vision problems”, published in the prestigious Bulletin of the World Health Organization.
According to Professor De Wet Swanepoel, founder of the hearX Group and lead investigator on this project from the University of Pretoria, “95% of young children don’t get the chance to have these senses checked before entering school. Children who don’t hear or see well can’t learn well. As a result, these kids can’t perform in school.”
Screening is usually unavailable because equipment is so expensive and because there is such a shortage of trained personnel, such as audiologists. Hearing and vision impairments are the most common developmental disabilities in children younger than 5 years, with more than 40 million kids affected globally. Healthy hearing and vision during early childhood is essential for optimal language, speech and educational outcomes. Detecting a problem in these senses early on is very important for early childhood development, emotional well-being and academic success.
The mobile health technology used for the community screening project in the Western Cape is provided by hearX Group. The hearScreen app, initially developed at the University of Pretoria, provides a quick reliable hearing check that can be operated by community health workers. Vision is checked using the Peek Acuity app provided by the UK-based partner Peek Vision.
The project provides hearing and vision screenings in preschool centres in Khayelitsha and Mitchells Plain. Four local community members trained to use the smartphone technology are providing the service to local preschool kids. Results from the first 8023 children screened across 271 preschools is reported in the WHO Bulletin article. More than a hundred children have already been diagnosed with a hearing or visual impairment, or both. These mobile health apps used by community members provide a low-cost service that can be scaled to reach thousands of children.
This project called, Ears and Eyes for Education (3E), is supported by a local NGO for children with hearing loss, the Carel du Toit centre as implementation partner with Funding provided by Swiss-based Hear the World foundation and a Newton Advanced Fellowship Award.
“This research showcases the potential of mobile health innovation to transform the lives of children with hearing and vision problems, especially those from disadvantaged communities” says professor Swanepoel.
The success of this project has also secured ongoing support from the Google Social Impact Award to ensure the lives of more than 20 000 kids are touched.
To read the full article please follow the link: https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/97/10/18-227876/en/