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CI vietnam

Breaking the silence – with a cochlear implant

In order for children with hearing loss to learn speech and language, they must be identified early, get appropriate hearing technology and have access to locally-based professional expertise and parent involvement. While hearing aids are usually sufficient for spoken language development in children with mild to moderate hearing loss, children with profound hearing loss need cochlear implant technology to be able to hear the sounds of speech required to develop spoken language.

Place & Year

Vietnam, 2018-2020


Technology Funding Knowledge

Main Focus

Children Providing audiological care for children in low-income countries is a focal area of the Hear the World Foundation’s activities.
Professional training The Hear the World Foundation supports projects that enable continuous audiological training for professionals on site.
Prevention of hearing loss The Hear the World Foundation globally promotes awareness for the topics of hearing and hearing loss and thus actively contributes toward the prevention of hearing loss.
Programs for parents & families By supporting self-help groups for parents, the Hear the World Foundation makes an important contribution, thus ensuring that affected parents receive specific help and assistance.

The problem: In Vietnam, as in many other low and middle-income countries, there is no insurance coverage or state subsidization for cochlear implants. The cochlear implant device, the associated surgery, the ongoing therapy and audiological services, and lifetime product maintenance costs are beyond the financial means of many families in Vietnam. Therefore, the Global Foundation For Children With Hearing Loss (GFCHL) and the Hear the World Foundation have entered into a unique collaboration that enables 10 Vietnamese children in need with significant hearing loss to hear and speak.

Lam’s story 

It is a moving moment when then three-year-old Lam hears his parents’ voices clearly for the first time at a children’s hospital in Hanoi. The thin boy beams from ear to ear. Now, he can finally hear! Lam’s parents have long been looking forward to this day. Five weeks earlier, their son was given an implant. The externeal speech processor has now been added. Experts from the Hear the World Foundation together with the local team, have meticulously prepared for this special moment and carefully supervised the activation.

Tung Lam is one of ten children with profound hearing loss, for whom the Hear the World Foundation, through the HearVietnam program, has donated the latest cochlear implant technology, the costs of the surgery, and long-term audiological follow-up care. Tung Lam was born prematurely, with hearing loss so severe that hearing aids would not suffice. Cochlear implant technology was  his only hope. But Tung Lam’s family could not afford to cover the costs. All the happier they were when they learned from Lam's speech therapist about the program provided by the Hear the World Foundation and the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss. 

Sustained engagement for long-term success

After the CI has been activated, Tung Lam could hear, but a time of intensive training began for him and his family.  While children with normal hearing start babbling away quite naturally, Tung Lam had to learn to distinguish between sounds and practice talking and listening. He has been given one year of auditory-verbal therapy by Vietnamese professionals, who have been trained by the Global Foundation for Children With Hearing Loss. Therapists taught the families how to support their children’s listening and spoken language development and gave them useful tips on how to help their children at home.

One year after the activation of the CI, the progress is substantial: Tung Lam has learned to speak, he forms sentences independently and proactively, perceives his surroundings intensively and attends a regular kindergarten. In the beginning, his kindergarten teacher paid special attention to him and sensitized the other children to Tung Lam's reduced hearing, but this is no longer necessary. Tung Lam is a socially integrated and happy child like everyone else. The CI also has a big impact on the family life: Tung Lam now participates much more in family life and also plays with his older brother.

I was impressed right away at Lam’s responsiveness to sounds as well as his parents’ knowledge with how best to interact with him. They jumped right in with play activities that reinforce listening and learning for Lam. This is the exact recipe for success.»
Elena Torresani, Director Hear the World Initiative

The program is not completed yet: Vietnamese audiologists from Sonova Vietnam provide ongoing audiological services at no charge to the families. Thus, they receive everything they need so that their children are able to learn to listen and to talk in the best possible way.