Looking back at World Hearing Day 2017 in South Africa

The South African Association of Audiologists embarked on a massive screening project at the Soweto Grace Bible Church on the 3rd of March to celebrate World Hearing Day on own soil. Hearing loss has amongst other things a major cost implication worldwide – costing and estimated 750 billion dollars worldwide.

How to overcome this? Early identification and early treatment of hearing loss. This will lead to improved long term outcomes and aim to prevent the devastating consequences of untreated hearing loss.

It was a cloudy Friday morning at 6 o’clock as we arrived at the church. A prayer meeting took place at the church when we arrived – so naturally we assumed the people standing around were attending the prayer meeting – little did we know they were already waiting for us!

We had our work cut out for us… with around 30 audiologists-volunteers and around 50 audiology students we were ready for the masses! All dressed up in their volunteer shirts sponsored by ProFleet Crane Truck Hire and AlphaPharm we stood waiting for the siren…our siren went off at 9 o’clock and we started testing… We started off a bit slowly as everyone became comfortable with the equipment and process – fortunately the system set up by EMoyo with 24 Kuduwaves was amazing. We had a live screen which updated the amounts of tests done in real time and every person tested was registered and had their own individual QR code which was scanned at the testing station! (Well done Emoyo and thank you – The equipment and process set up was of first world standard!) The HearX group had also set up 4 testing kiosks with the HearZA app where tests could be administered – once again first world technology in the middle of Soweto, Johannesburg South Africa! Thank you HearZA!

After a relative slow start – we picked up the pace and we were on target … So then the rain came pouring down – testing was paused for about 15 minutes the first time and 10 minutes the second…but good news was we were still on target.  The rain posed a tremendous problem for mostly pensioners to reach the church and public transport that was problematic in difficult weather conditions… Despite the rain people were still trickling in – but very slowly. As the nerves settled in for the volunteers a few of us decided that it’s time to jump in and make a plan to get the people there. Local radio stations jumped in and asked people to attend, some of the volunteers went to the malls to recruit people and were telling people about the day. Fortunately those tested with their lovely blue “I have been tested” T-Shirts sponsored by Telkom were also telling friends and family about the screening day and the wonderful work we were doing.

Refreshments for volunteers during the day was sponsored by Future life – thank you for the wonderful energy bars that we needed so much! Romans Pizza provided pizza and water for all the volunteers – thank you for a delicious meal! Select PPE – thank you for also sponsoring water for every volunteer to keep us hydrated and energised!


While we were nearing the World Record – we passed the previous SA record which was 495 at Life Fourways hospital and we had the most amazing experiences to see the gratitude in these people’s faces and hearts. I every audiologist’s heart that day – I’m sure a feeling of contentedness came alight to know that you are an instrument in something bigger. A realisation anew that this is your calling!

Thank you to every volunteer that committed your time and energy into this day – This was an amazing part of yourself to give and we couldn’t have done any of this without you!

I had a quiet moment during the day… I was standing on a balcony– Watching the masses of people that has been tested trickling away – clearly visible with their blue shirts from Telkom, blue caps from ProFleet Crane Truck Hire, pink caps and pink wrist bands from Oticon. I realised something I had known – One act such as this can make such a big difference – and if one single person could be helped as a result of this day – every second that went into the planning of this day would be worth it!

So we eventually made the world record – almost an hour before cut-off time! What a moment after a short celebration – we jumped in and finished the rest of the people to be tested. A total of 817 (Kuduwave) plus 68 (HearZA) = 885 participants were tested.

I order to make sure that everyone tested had access to follow-up intervention services, referral letters were given out to explain the results and indicate to patients where they should be going to receive follow up & interventions services. Unitron was so kind as to sponsor 1000 information pamphlets in English, Zulu and Sotho to explain results to participants so that they were properly informed. Unitron has also sponsored 500 custom instruments that will be managed and distributed through arranged referral channels. There was also around 10 audiologists in private practice offering to see some of these patients free of charge and at reduced cost. Thank you Unitron!!!


Thank you also to AlphaPharm that did some other health check such as blood pressure screenings on the day! And to Sivantos for the stand that you had there on the day and for the financial contribution!


This event had major media coverage on the day aswell as prior to the event!

Radio interview on 702 with Tanya Hanekom (President) of SAAA:

CTNG did an insert on World Hearing Day: 

SABC News: Health Talk did the following feature: 

You’ve earned it – magazine feature: 

SABC News online: 

Jozi FM Interview – No link available

90.6 Interview – No link available

SAFM , Radio 2000, Ukhozi FM, Ikwekwezi FM

A very big thank you to the sponsors without we could not have managed to do any of this!

  • Emoyo
  • Telkom
  • Select PPE
  • ProFleet Crane Truck Hire
  • Oticon
  • Unitron
  • Romans Pizza
  • Future Life
  • Sivantos
  • HearX Group
  • HearZA
  • AlphaPharm

To all the volunteers – thank you for your time and effort –SAAA appreciates your effort tremendously!

  • 3rd & 4th Yr Students Sefako Makgatho University
  • Celeste Coetzer
  • Dominique Freeborough
  • Kutloano Mtimkulu
  • Candice van Heerden
  • Tarryn Collard
  • Meliska Chetty
  • Tanya Hanekom
  • Judy Hartzenberg
  • Wendy Deverson
  • Tarien van Heerden
  • Tela Nghulele
  • Rene Hornby
  • Rozelle Roets
  • Yolande van der Westhuizen
  • Vera -Genevey Hlayisi
  • Janah du Plessis
  • Margot Walters
  • Ashleigh van Zyl
  • Carina Visser
  • Izabelle Heyman
  • Pam Govender
  • Michelle Kinnear
  • Khulsum Kaka
  • Mathieu van der Aerschot
  • Clementine Phale
  • Kimberlee Sarah Underwood

SAAA MAnagement members with SABC foundation representative:

Thank you to Select PPE for sponsoring our beautiful interview banner and backdrop for the day!

Congratulations to ALL at SAAA for your joint efforts with sponsors on World Hearing Day and for achieving the World Record! As Unitron SA, we are extremely privileged to part of your success and we’re very pleased to have been involved – highlighting the importance of Hearing Awareness and being able to help those who are in need of amplification post screening. Regards to All from The Unitron Team.

Dear SAAA team. Thank you for affording us the opportunity to be such an integral part of the team for this event. The awareness generated will surely encourage more patients to be tested and, as a result, receive the treatment they need.

The World Hearing Day world record attempt serves as an example of what can be achieved when we all pull together with a common goal and commitment to providing hearing healthcare to the millions in South Africa in need.

We would also like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to every audiologist and volunteer who worked so hard to make this a reality.

I wish I could have attended the event myself but every year we have a CE audit from Europe on the KUDUwave and the auditor was here exactly during the time of the event.

What about South Africa breaks their own record in the near future?

Dirk Koekemoer

Congratulations on breaking the record and a great service to the community.

Henry van der Walt