Hear Armenia: Helping an earthquake ravaged country hear

After a successful trip to Haiti to provide support to children who have hearing loss, Hear The World Foundation is heading to Armenia. Open Ears will be following the group of Sonova team members on their journey. As Head of the Hear the World initiative, Elena Torresani leads the department of the Hear the World Foundation. She is passionate about her job and is creative and enthusiastic. Outside of work, she enjoys cooking, travelling, yoga and spending time with her loved ones.

Hear Armenia

Armenia is a country with a great need for action and support of its health industry.

In December 1988, two earthquakes – measuring at 6.9 and 5.8 in magnitude – hit Armenia, killing up to 50,000 people and destroying nearly half a million buildings. Weakened by the earthquake, and the demise of the Soviet Union, Armenia’s economy broke down. The country began gaining some momentum in the late ‘90s when market reform was introduced, but the industrial sector continued to suffer. Ten years later, the 2008 financial crisis put the country again in jeopardy, destroying the positive developments made after the earthquakes. Today, 20 percent of Armenians live on less than $2 a day. Their access to healthcare is a question of money, as approximately 60 percent of healthcare costs are paid for by the patient out-of-pocket. The state spends less than 2 percent of gross domestic product on healthcare for the population, and hospitals often don’t have the necessary equipment or well-trained medical personnel.

The tragic earthquakes of 1998 marked the beginning of a close cooperation of the Children’s University Hospital Zurich with the “Arabkir” Hospital in Yerevan. The “Arabkir” hospital in Yerevan is the main pediatric hospital in Armenia and serves as reference for pediatric care in the whole country. At Arabkir, children under 7 years old receive free medical service and rehabilitation. The Hear the World Foundation has been supporting this program since 2010, by providing hearing aids, FM systems, financial funds and professional expertise.

On Saturday, a team is yet again headed to Armenia to further train the local hospital staff in hearing instrument fitting and verification.

Along with the technical training, this year’s project includes a special gift to the hearing impaired children in the Arabkir Hospital: a new piano for their music therapy, which they participate in twice a week. Phonak employees in Switzerland and Germany held bake sales to raise money for the gift. We will present the piano to the children next week!

Follow our journey to Armenia here on Open Ears and on social media:

Instagram: HTW_Foundation

Facebook: Facebook.com/CanYouHearTheWorld

Twitter: @hear_the_world

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