More Jamaicans with hearing difficulties are to benefit from free hearing aids and aftercare under a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed between the Juliet A. Holness Foundation and the United States-based Starkey Hearing Foundation.
The MOU follows a special mission to the island by members of the foundation in June, where more than 400 persons received custom hearing aids.
More than 800 people were fitted with hearing aids by the Starkey team in 2017, who continue to receive monthly aftercare free of cost.
The agreement, which was signed on Tuesday (September 4) at Jamaica House, will also seek to establish a framework of cooperation and collaboration with stakeholders to expand Starkey Foundation’s hearing health programme in the Caribbean.
Speaking with JIS News, Mrs. Holness said the initiative is important in creating a more inclusive society.
“This is an initiative that we will be able to carry across Jamaica to ensure that every single child and adult who is unable to hear can do so,” she said.
Mrs. Holness commended Starkey for its commitment to improving the lives of persons with hearing disabilities.
“It not only provides hearing aids; it has been able to maintain a programme of continuous checks and ensuring that the hearing is supported long-term. They provide maintenance and follow-up throughout life, and that is very special for those who cannot afford it,” she noted.
Director of Global Development for the Starkey Hearing Foundation, Owen Olende, said the agreement is an important step in building multiple partnerships as it seeks to widen its operations in the Caribbean region.
He hailed the cooperation with the Juliet A. Holness Foundation to “enable us to get the right stakeholders on board” in order to extend the reach of the initiative.
To ensure the sustainability of the programme, Mr. Olende said that training will be done at the community level to build capacity.
“Part of the sustainability plan is engaging in research with local universities to come up with more Jamaica-relevant programmes and be able to scale up the programme throughout the four regions in Jamaica. We will work closely with the Ministry of Health through the Juliet A. Holness Foundation to make sure we achieve that within the next year or so,” he said.
“With your support, we will be able to scale up the programme not only in Jamaica, but in the wider Caribbean region. Through the signing of this MOU, you will officially be our ambassador for the region,” he added.
The partnership is the first activity under the recently launched Juliet A. Holness Foundation, which seeks to advance Mrs. Holness’ passion for health, education and family values.
Starkey Hearing Foundation is a global organisation that provides custom hearing aids to people in need.
It has community-based programmes in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Central America, the Middle East, South-East Asia and the Caribbean, with the aim of providing services at no cost to the beneficiaries and to promote healthy hearing medical care worldwide.