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by Medtronic LABS


Partnering with the Ministry of Health in Bhutan and the UN Technology Bank to Help Bhutanese Children with Hearing Loss and Ear Disorders Hear, Listen and Speak  

Medtronic LABS has partnered with the Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan, UN Technology Bank for Least Developed Countries (UNTB), GNResound, MEDEL, along with the Austian Development Agency, UNICEF Bhutan, and United Nations Bhutan to launch an initiative to ensure universal pediatric ear and hearing care to every Bhutanese child. 

The World Health Organization estimates that hearing loss affects 32 million children worldwide and 60% of pediatric hearing loss can be prevented through early detection and the implementation of public health measures, along with the timely provision of diagnosis and treatment services. In Bhutan, it is estimated that 2.2% of the population has some form of hearing disorder.  

“Together we must envision a Bhutan where no child shall endure hearing loss due to preventable causes.”

– Her Excellency Dasho Dechen Wangmo, Ministry of Health, Royal Government of Bhutan 

Hear, Listen and Speak Program will screen for early detection of hearing loss in children and provide free hearing aids with a customized earmold to those diagnosed with hearing loss. Prior to this program screening and intervention was only conducted in hospitals causing late identification of hearing issues. 

Hear, Listen and Speak Bhutan
Students are screened for hearing loss and ear disorders at Jigme Namgyel LSS in Bhutan.

Using Medtronic LABS portable screening and digital patient management technologies, health workers will conduct community and school screenings for newborn babies up to children aged fourteen and opportunistic screening of adults in various community and medical outreach activities, enhancing early detection of preventable hearing difficulties. Medtronic Labs will also educate Bhutanese health workers on the usage of these technologies to ensure a sustainable ear care continuum is established. 

Earmolds will now be made at the country’s first earmold laboratory which launched in August 2022 at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) in Thimphu, Bhutan. An impression of the ear canal will be made so that the earmold which is attached to a hearing aid fits precisely into the patients’ ear canal to enhance sound for increased hearing. 

“Medtronic LABS is proud to partner with the Government of Bhutan and the Consortium to enable this transformational change in the way we address the burden of ear disease and hearing loss in babies and children of Bhutan, through the technologies of Medtronic LABS. We are committed to delivering superior outcomes at a population level by augmenting the local healthcare delivery systems with technology and training to drive systemic change and ensure every child in Bhutan receives the right ear and hearing care.”

– Ruchika Singhal, President of Medtronic LABS 

 In the future, earmold labs may expand into two regional hospitals and health workers’ professional capacity will be enhanced to support expansion of these ear and hearing care services for Bhutan to offer the full Continuum of Care (early identification, parent education and support, hearing technology, and rehabilitation services). 

Through this multisector partnership, Hear, Listen and Speak will strengthen the continuum of care in Bhutan from screening to rehabilitation of ear disorders and hearing loss and will transform the lives of Bhutanese children. 

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