Global WACh

October 19, 2021

Joint Nairobi- and Seattle-Based Project Aims to Develop Universal Newborn and Early Childhood Hearing Screening in Kenya

Researchers from the University of Nairobi, Departments and of Surgery and of Pediatrics and Child Health, Kenyatta National Hospital, the University of Washington Department of Global Health and Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, are working on the TUNE project: Toward Universal Newborn and Early Childhood Hearing Screening in Kenya. TUNE aims to generate evidence that could allow the development and scale-up of ear and hearing health assessment for newborns and young children in low- and middle-income countries. These goals are consistent with WHO’s recently released “World Report on Hearing”.

TUNE researchers and stakeholders convened in Kenya in September 2021.

In September, the TUNE group met with key stakeholders in Kenya to discuss opportunities and next steps for developing a newborn/child hearing screening program. The group discussed critical issues such as how best to support the continuum of care for children identified by screening and diagnosed with hearing loss and reviewed emerging and novel smartphone-based ear and hearing health assessment tools that could ultimately reduce the cost of screening. Participating stakeholders included representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, University of Nairobi, NGOs including the Global Foundation for Children with Hearing Loss, parents of children with hearing loss, county-based otolaryngologists, and other health care providers. Stakeholders developed a plan for a technical working group (TWG) that will focus on national hearing screening policy development. The TWG will focus on developing policy proposals focused on the implementation of hearing screening, identifying research and gaps and priorities, and will advocate for funding to support ear health and hearing screening.

Participants demonstrating a hearing assessment using a screening tool.

Several supporting research projects are ongoing, as well as future grant proposals to further develop this initiative. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Serah Ndegwa, MAud, University of Nairobi, Department of Surgery (; Sarah Benki-Nugent, MS, PhD, University of Washington, Department of Global Health (; or Emily Gallagher, MD, MPH, University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle Children’s Hospital ( You can also visit