... we make you hear better.

... we make you hear better.

History


The establishment of Phonics Hearing Centre in September 1995 was first prompted by the personal experience of its principal promoter/director who was born with a congenital hearing loss that was only diagnosed several years after graduation from the medical school! The poor awareness and management of this condition became more evident during a post-graduate research by the principal promoter on hearing loss and other developmental disabilities among primary school entrants in Lagos between 1993 and 1995 after a one year hands-on training at the Donald Winnicott Centre for Child Development, London under the supervision of a distinguished community/developmental paediatrician, Dr. Deborah Hodes. In the course of seeking support for the children detected with hearing loss the following conditions reflecting the general state of hearing healthcare services in the country and indeed most of sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) were observed:

  • Facilities for audiological services were rare in both public and private hospitals.

  • In a few secondary and tertiary health institutions, the available facilities could only support basic tests that were of limited value for diagnostic purposes.

  • Facilities and know-how for dispensing of hearing aids and hearing-protection devices were virtually non-existent even in tertiary centres.

  • For a privileged few who could travel overseas for help, they were still faced with the frustration of lack of on-going support services locally.

  • The only communication option available for children with hearing loss was sign language offered in schools for the deaf.

  • There was dearth of trained and skilled professionals in the field of clinical audiology and audiological medicine.


As a result of the exclusive and overwhelming focus on communicable and life-threatening diseases at all levels of healthcare delivery in and for developing countries it was evident that hearing healthcare was unlikely to be considered an important public health condition without multifaceted non-government initiatives spearheaded by the stakeholders (including persons with or closely affected by hearing loss). It was against this backdrop that the Centre was conceived to pioneer the provision of comprehensive audiological services of the highest possible standards guided by evidence-based research. The name of the Centre, “Phonics” connotes the ‘science of sound’ and aptly captures the very essence of the Centre as a personalised communication company with special interest in hearing health technology and community-based research. At inception, the Centre received essential manpower training support from Grason-Stadler Inc, USA; Oticon A/S, Denmark; and HASS (South Africa) at these various locations.

Our unique experience and antecedents place on us a commitment not only to promote high-quality services for persons with hearing loss but also to champion public engagement and multidisciplinary partnerships at all levels for curtailing the burden of avoidable hearing loss in sub-Saharan Africa.