July 2018 Newcastle Herald
Jesmond-based audiologist Ashish Prasher says a recent humanitarian mission in Samoa has confirmed his belief that Australians “are lucky to live in a country” that has affordable hearing healthcare. Mr Prasher travelled to the Pacific Island nation last month with another four audiologists as part of ‘Hear for Good’, an initiative from independent Australian hearing health provider National Hearing Care.
Research suggests Samoa is home to more than 4,000 people with untreated hearing loss, but according to National Hearing Care the nation has no qualified audiologists. “Hearing impairment is a serious health issue in Samoa,” Mr Prasher said. “Locals catch 6am ferries and patiently wait all-day just to consult with an audiologist.
Ashish Prasher, left, during a hearing health care assessment in Samoa
“In Australia, we often take easy access to affordable hearing healthcare for granted, so it’s been extremely rewarding to offer support and solutions to those who are hearing impaired and cannot access even a free check.”
With the help of a local team, Mr Prasher and the ‘Hear for Good’ team conducted hearing tests, fitted hearing aids and educated users on hearing aid care and maintenance. The team fitted more than 300 hearing impaired locals with free refurbished hearing aids. The aids were actually provided by everyday Australians who are clients of National Hearing Care.
“Over the past few years, I have seen first-hand how hearing aids can change a person’s life, but seeing the impact for so many people at once was very powerful,” Mr Prasher said. “I had the chance to help an 11-year old boy who found school and socialising difficult because he suffered from severe hearing loss. We fitted him with hearing aids, and It was an incredibly touching moment for the team. He cried tears of joy at being able to hear the world for the very first time.”
Mr Prasher, who is originally from India but now calls Newcastle home, says the experience was the first of its kind he has taken after nine years working as an audiologist. “This was my first trip, but I’m looking forward to doing more trips in the future, I’ve heard of similar trips, but opportunities like these tend to be harder to find for audiologists compared to general doctors and nurses as the work is more specialised.”
The 34-year-old said it was his father who initially inspired him to work in the industry. He says Australians are lucky to have the hearing health care on offer. “I love the work I do and find it fulfilling to be able to help clients improve their physical and mental health,” Mr Prasher said.
“We are lucky to live in a country where free hearing checks are available to every Australian and can be easily accessed. “We encourage everyone over 50-years old to get their hearing checked annually. “I encourage all Newcastle residents to get a free hearing check at their local NHC clinic.”