Addressing the medical and developmental needs of people with disabling hearing loss
All Ears Cambodia (AEC) is an NGO specifically addressing the medical and development needs of people with disabling hearing loss – from newborns to the elderly. Established in 2003 – it is the only agency working in this specific area of medicine and healthcare in Cambodia, a country with a serious lack of healthcare accessibility. An estimated two million Khmers suffer from some degree of deafness. More than half of these individuals are children, many of whom live in abject poverty. AEC says that in some villages, chronic ear disease in children is so common it is considered normal.
AEC treats people of all ages and in all situations, but their focus is on the weakest and hardest hit, in Cambodia this means children with HIV, street children, orphans, physically disabled people, victims of landmines and leprosy, former child labourers and girls rescued from trafficking rings and domestic violence.
Their clinics are located in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Kratie and each clinic has a fully equipped ear mould laboratory and hearing aid repair service. Outreach posts are also operating in other provinces of Cambodia. AEC works in partnership with over 50 local and international aid agencies and four public hospitals, running outreach clinics to bring hearing health care to anyone in need of help. It’s a surprisingly small operation with just 22 staff, 21 of whom are full-time salaried employees.
This awful situation together with a scarcity of resources in a country still recovering from the genocidal regime of the Khmer Rouge prompted the organisation to take an innovative and sustainable approach to address the issue – opening the School of Audiology and Primary Ear Healthcare in 2012.
“Such capacity development is seen as the only sustainable solution, not only allowing increased patient support but ensuring Khmers can lead healthcare advances for the long term.”
The School is located in Phnom Penh at the flagship clinic. Students undertake two-year intensive training in the various disciplines of the healthcare area, truly investing in the Khmer people by addressing the paucity of skilled specialist health workers.
The Morris Family Foundation donated funds to AEC for their project ‘Talking Audiology’ for the training of clinicians at the School. By developing local human resources, AEC leads hearing healthcare in Cambodia, fostering opportunities for the expansion of existing services and the development of new ones in currently under-served areas and to lead hearing healthcare in Cambodia. The funding covered a year of clinical practise, class-room based study, field visit and general operational costs for the student intake.
9Cambodian provinces with outreach services linked to AEC
22Number of staff that provide these services
21,925Total caseload (number of patients) in 2013