Project information

Paediatric hearing screening in Zambia

Deafness and hearing impairment is a “silent epidemic” in developing countries. Late identification and poor treatment prevent children with hearing loss from accessing education, condemning them to poverty. This project will ensure children are identified and given a chance to improve their lives.

1 year

Charity information

Sound Seekers

Sound Seekers logo
  • Need


    Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. Babies face a minefield of health risks and survival can come at a price. Treatment of illnesses that commonly affect children, such as malaria, measles, TB, rubella, and meningitis, can involve the use of ototoxic drugs - which can cause hearing loss. There is no programme to check whether children exposed to these medications have suffered damaged hearing. They are not identified or supported and miss key stages of cognitive development.


    Sound Seekers will work with Alfred Muamba, the only audiologist in Zambia, and the University Teaching Hospital to create a sustainable paediatric audiology service. Children who present at hospital with risk factors associated with hearing loss will be tested, treated where necessary, and supported educationally. The project will also include prevention work through early identification of predisposing factors for hearing impairment and awareness raising.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To ensure that children at-risk of hearing loss are identified and treated appropriately.


    » The hospital, schools and out-reach clinics will identify at-risk children.
    » Children will be screened and, where hearing loss is indentified, will be re-tested and referred to an ENT specialist and then an audiologist.
    » Selected nurses and midwives will be trained to support audiology screening tests on children too young to communicate and on older children.

    750 children will be screened per year. Monthly reports will be provided by the in-country team to monitor the project's success.

    Aim 2

    To ensure that children with hearing loss receive educational support.


    » We will establish links between clinicians and schools to ensure that children are supported.
    » Teachers will be trained to meet the needs of children with hearing loss.

    We anticipate that 150 children will require treatment; success will be all of these children receiving educational support.

    Aim 3

    To tackle hearing loss by prevention.


    » Out-reach clinics and schools will teach children and families about prevention and the basics of primary ear and hearing care.
    » Early identification through the screeening programme may reveal predisposing factors for hearing-loss.

    Success will be 30 visits to schools to teach pupils and their families about hearing loss prevention and primary ear and hearing care.

  • Impact


    The project will build on the existing medical infrastructure and will become embedded and sustainable. We have the support of senior staff in the hospitals and schools and will work with hospital management to ensure that in future years, running costs of the project can be built into hospital budgets. Long term the project will enable 750 children per year to be screened for hearing loss so that they receive appropriate clinical and educational support as early as possible.


    Risk: trained nursing and midwifery staff leaving. Mitigation: Candidates for training will be carefully selected in association with the hospitals in Zambia to ensure those chosen are committed to the project. We invest time and effort in building relationships, including visits to country, which greatly decreases the chances of staff leaving. The staff that receive training will also sign bonding agreements to fulfil their contract period.


    Funders of the project will receive updates throuhg our website, social media and by our monthky nbewsletter. We will also send donors a summary report at the end of the project.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £39,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £21,000 Equipment Essential screening and diagnostic equipment for new-born babies and older children
      £7,000 Equipment Hearing aids & consumables for testing
      £6,000 Training On-site training for nurses, midwives & refresher training for the audiologist
      £2,500 School support To support training & additional work created in meeting the needs of children with hearing loss
      £2,500 Awareness & Prevention Materials and expenses for awareness & prevention programme at schools, community centres & clinics
  • Background


    The project will be based in Lusaka, the Zambian capital. It will build on the existing medical infrastructure at the University Teaching Hospital for neo-natal screening and ENT support. This will be supported by audiology treatment and follow-up at the Beit Cure Hospital. Schools, community centres and out-reach clinics located in the Lusaka Province will form the final part of project infrastructure.


    Zambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. It ranks a low 163 out of 187 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. The project will benefit children in the Lusaka Province who are at risk of hearing loss. By early identification these children will not miss a key stage of development for cognitive and language skills. Early intervention means they will be able to communicate effectively, participate in school, enjoy normal social interaction, and later in life undertake work.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Sound Seekers has close links with both hospitals and the country's only audiologist, Alfred Mwamba. The project is supported by senior staff in both hospitals and will become sustainable by incorporation into their budgets. We have a pool of volunteer professionals who will visit Zambia to support the clinical officers. We also have a similar project in Sierra Leone which has been successful in screening and treating at risk children. We have applied the lessons learned to this project.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Dr Alfred Mwamba

    Project Lead and Audiology Coordinator

    Dr Nadia Lukwasa

    ENT Coordinator

    Emily Bell

    Programme Manager, Sound Seekers

    Lucy Carter

    Chief Executive, Sound Seekers