Home>Engagement>Aid Projects>North America>Panama: hearing despite profound hearing loss

For the first time the Hear the World Foundation enables children with profound hearing loss to hear with the donation of cochlear implants. In 2017 three children from Panama received a cochlear implant and thus the chance to hear, learn to speak and of a life without limitations. In 2018 four more children received this gift. The donation builds on the previous project support and marks another milestone in the Swiss foundation’s 10-years history.

Place & Year

Panama, 2013-2020


Richard Seewald Award


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.

Although Panama is ranked the second most competitive economy in Latin America according to the World Economic Forum, 26 percent of the population is living in poverty, and is lacking access to audiological care. Particularly for children, an untreated hearing loss can have serious consequences: children who cannot hear, do not learn to speak which lowers their chances to attend school, to pursue a career and to lead an independent life.

Disadvantaged children with hearing loss need help

Although the health sector is making major progress in terms of its audiological care infrastructure, the state-run healthcare system can only cover the costs of hearing aids and speech therapy for a handful of those living in poverty. That is why the hope of many people rely on the Fundación pro Integración (FUNPROI), one of the few institutions in the country, who closes this gap by providing ear medical care to disadvantaged children and young adults with hearing loss.  

Gift of hearing for children with profound hearing loss 

Since 2013 the Hear the World Foundation supports FUNPROI with hearing aids, funding and expertise. So far hundreds of children have been helped. Until now, children who did not benefit from even the most powerful hearing aids have been denied the chance of better hearing. That is why for the first time, the Hear the World Foundation is donating chochlear implants (CI) to three children in Panama, in collaboration with the Sonova subsidiary Advanced Bionics.

Ensure sustainability with professional follow-up care

Just donating cochlear implants isn't enough. Professional follow-up care is an equally important part of our engagement. The CI experts from Advanced Bionics also play a major role in ongoing care. They support the project locally, control the activation of the CIs, ans pass on their expertise to the FUNPROI audiologists so the children will continue to receive follow-up care in the future.

Over the following two to three years, the children will receive regular audiological monitoring of the cochlear implants as well as speech training three times as week to compensate for their current speech deficiencies and to prepare them for school. Their parents are trained in how to handle CIs and also receive tips on playful ways to support their children in their speech training at home. With all these measures, the Hear the World Foundation not only enables children to hear, but also ensures sustainable all-round audiological care in accordance with international standards.

What is a Cochlear Implant (CI)?

A CI is an electronic hearing prosthesis that allows people with profound hearing loss to hear again or even for the first time. Cochlear implants are made up of two components: the implant, which is placed under the scalp during surgery, and the speech processor with a transmitter coil, which is worn on the back on the head.

More about cochlear implants

Award for outstanding engagement

For its highly professional work FUNPROI was honoured with the 2014 Richard Seewald Award, an annual recognition by the Hear the World Foundation for outstanding engagements.


The Hear the World Foundation's prize is named after Professor Dr. Richard Seewald, who is well known for his tireless efforts in pediatric audiology over many decades. He spearheaded the development of an internationally recognized DSL method for fitting hearing systems to children. Prior to his retirement, Seewald held the Canada Research Chair in Childhood Hearing at that country's National Centre for Audiology, which he co-founded. He is a Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Western Ontario.