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US-based foundation lauds city for its hearing aid program

The city has received a commendation from a US-based nonprofit foundation for its hearing project aftercare program, the head of the City Health Office said.

In an interview with TIMES, CHO head Josephine Villafuerte said the Starkey Foundation gave last week the award, as well as a commendation, to Elmer Verano, one of the aftercare specialists trained by the CHO.

The award allows the city to participate in the next round of distributions set next year.

While the distribution of hearing aids last year were for hearing impaired patients of all ages, children will be the focus in the next round, planned sometime in November of 2020.

The foundation donated around P90 million worth of hearing aids, with the CHO providing around P500,000 in mobilization budget.

In the past two years, the Starkey Foundation led the distribution of around 1,500 hearing aids for beneficiaries in the city.

“As of today, we have trained three personnel to handle the aftercare program,” Villafuerte said.

The trained staff members are in charge of making sure that the equipment provided to the hearing-impaired work properly, as well as take care of issues regarding the use of the said equipment.

The two other trained health officers, Kim Dalipe and Ernie Cequina, also fulfill roles in the CHO’s immunization and tropical division.

The Starkey Foundation is working with other city government offices, including the Office of former Councilor April Marie Dayap who is now the chief of the Davao City Investment and Promotion Center (DCIPC).

According to Dayap, the award rewards programs that make good follow-up services, particularly consultations, to hearing aid beneficiaries.

Starkey Foundation, based in Minnesota, prides in giving free hearing aid to the underprivileged hearing impaired individuals all over the world, an effort started by its founder William Austin who himself is hearing impaired.

Austin owns Starkey Hearing Technologies, an American privately-owned company that makes hearing aids, and is one of the largest hearing aid manufacturers in the world.

Austin’s foundation has been active in “building sustainable, community-based systems of hearing healthcare around the world to empower local communities and ensure the people helped are able to achieve their full potential in life.”

To help raise funds, the foundation holds an annual gala that is attended by various celebrities. As of 2017, the foundation had donated one million hearing aids to those in need around the world.

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