Jacksonville Hearing & Balance Institute’s J. Douglas Green, MD, implants cochlear devices in children and adults in Jos, Nigeria as part of Hearing Help For Africa

Hearing Help for Africa is a non-profit organization with the goal of improving ear-related medical conditions for Africans by expanding medical education opportunities for African physicians. Specifically, it seeks to develop remote telemedicine connections between U.S. physicians and their counterparts in Africa to offer more specialized training, consultation and education as well as improved facilities and equipment. The telelink will also be used for televising educational conferences between U.S. and African medical facilities.

Begun in 2010, Hearing Help for Africa is the brainchild of Dr. Douglas Green, his wife Kelley, and Dr. Joel Anthis. The Greens and their family made several mission trips to Lusaka, Zambia, with Family Legacy Missions in the early 2000s. They were struck by the incredible joy exhibited by the African people in the midst of extreme poverty, profound loss of the family structure due to AIDS, and the hardships imposed by governmental corruption. Dr. Green was subsequently invited to visit Nigeria by Dr. Anthis, an American ear, nose and throat physician who was working full-time in a Christian missionary hospital in Jos, Nigeria. While there Dr. Green witnessed firsthand the scope of the need as he performed surgery and helped provide medical care for patients with ear-related problems. He couldn’t overlook the poor condition of the few facilities and the lack of the most basic equipment and technology. Nor could he miss the desperation, and the gratefulness, of his patients.

ECWA Evangel Hospital is a 150-bed general hospital located in Jos, Nigeria, a city of more than 800,000. This is the waiting area at the hospital. http://www.flickr.com/photos/blyth/1621535759/

The severe shortage of qualified African doctors, coupled with death from widespread violence and rampant cholera, malaria, and even rabies is part of the national healthcare dilemma. Patients come from villages without running water or roads, and electricity in the larger towns and cities is not always reliable.

While there is not much medical specialization in Nigeria or other parts of Africa, the Greens and Dr. Anthis have plans that will provide more advanced ear-related services for the people. Their long-term strategy includes establishing mini-fellowships in which African physicians will come to the U.S. and learn more about otolaryngology. More immediate plans will foster American/Nigerian consultations, such as the one which was accomplished recently. Dr. Green had just returned to the U.S. from performing cochlear implant surgery on a Nigerian woman with a profound hearing loss. As is the norm, several weeks had to pass after the surgery before the device would be serviceable. In order to finalize the procedure, Dr. Green and his staff at the Jacksonville Hearing and Balance Institute worked through Nigerian physicians, remotely programming the cochlear implant. A world of sound was opened up for a woman half way around the world.