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March 3: World Hearing Day

29 February 2024 Bonitas Medical Fund
Take an online hearing screening test with Bonitas and hearConnect

Take an online hearing screening test with Bonitas and hearConnect

World Hearing Day is an annual event organised by the World Health Organization (WHO). Held on 3 March, it’s a global campaign to raise awareness around the prevention of hearing loss and the importance of hearing health and ear care. To help create more awareness, Bonitas Medical Fund is offering free online hearing screening for all South Africans, over the age of 18.

Hearing loss is an under-diagnosed medical condition that significantly impacts the physical and mental health of those who have any degree of hearing difficulty. Disabling hearing loss is often called the ‘invisible epidemic.’ It affects more than three million South Africans and over 1.5 billion people globally.

With the theme ‘Changing mindsets: Let’s make ear and hearing care a reality for all!’ World Hearing Day emphasises the significance of early identification and interventions in preventing hearing loss. Hearing is vital in that it connects individuals to their surroundings, enabling communication, learning and social interaction. Yet millions of people, worldwide, face hearing challenges which can impact their quality of life.

Free online hearing test
‘Last year we partnered with hearConnect and introduced a free online hearing screener for members on our website,’ says Lee Callakoppen, Principal Officer of Bonitas Medical Fund. ‘Through this partnership we have extended this functionality and made it available to all South Africans.’

How it works
The online, validated, speech-in-noise hearing test, uses the latest in audiological technology combined with the highest standards of clinical expertise. Go to https://www.bonitas.co.za/hearing-screening and, in just two minutes, you can test your hearing status. All you need is access to a computer or your mobile, headphones or earphones, a quiet area and then you’re all set to take the test.

Post the test
If the screening test indicates you are experiencing hearing loss, hearConnect is available to guide you through the next steps. Alternatively, make an appointment with an audiologist, consult your GP and/or visit the nearest clinic.

What causes hearing loss?
Hearing loss can come about as you age or as a result of loud noises, illnesses and disease, genetics and trauma (contact sport). Other factors, such as too much earwax, also reduce your ability to hear.

Hearing loss repercussions
One of the biggest concerns associated with hearing loss, when it is not treated properly, is the long-term impact it has on the quality of life. Prevention and early detection are important, after all, hearing is the foundation for speech and language development, as well as learning and communication.

There are many challenges associated with hearing loss. These include language development that impacts our ability to read, write, spell and concentrate. It affects social skills resulting in isolation, depression, loneliness, cognitive impairment, unemployment and an increased risk of dementia.

World Hearing Day underscores the need for accessible and affordable hearing care services and encourages everyone to prioritise their hearing health.

‘As a medical scheme we know that patients with untreated hearing loss experience more inpatient stays compared to those without hearing loss,’ says Callakoppen. ‘There is a 17% increased risk of emergency department visits, readmissions and rate of hospitalisation as well as longer hospital stays.

‘Our partnership with hearConnect includes a full audiology benefit management programme on selected plans for our members to ensure they maintain ear health. This includes a follow up with ongoing treatment steps if hearing loss is detected.’

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