Early hearing detection and intervention services in the public health sector in South Africa

Marianne Theunissen, DeWet Swanepoel
International Journal of Audiology 2008, 47 Suppl 1: S23-9
The purpose of this study was to examine the current status of newborn/infant hearing screening programs in public sector hospitals in South Africa by means of a descriptive survey. Data was gathered using a self-administered postal questionnaire, which included questions on screening resources and protocols, follow-up, diagnostic, and information management procedures as well as timing of intervention. The questionnaire was sent to 86 speech therapy and audiology departments within public sector hospitals throughout South Africa and 44 questionnaires were returned. The findings indicated that 27% (n=12) of respondents were conducting some form of hearing screening. The most frequently reported reasons for the absence of a screening program were a lack of appropriate equipment and a shortage of staff. Institutions with active screening programs face many challenges and programs are mostly unsystematic. Reported findings make a valuable contribution to the field of early hearing detection and intervention by providing a baseline for the development and structuring of early hearing detection and intervention services as a priority in the public healthcare sector of South Africa.

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