Approximately one in two NSW Aboriginal children aged 0-3 years are affected by otitis media (OM), lowering to one in three between 3-6 years old. This is significantly higher than non-Aboriginal children, and if left undetected can lead to hearing loss within 12 months of life, impacting development of listening, learning, speech and language and social cognition. Effective pathways for early detection and management of otitis media can significantly reduce the severity and longer-term impacts of OM and the resultant hearing loss.
Professor Catherine McMahon from the Department of Linguistics, partnered with Hearing Australia, is leading a team of researchers to address this. MQ investigators including Professor Liz Pellicano from the Macquarie School of Education, Dr Leanne Holt, Pro-Vice Chancellor Indigenous Strategy, and Dr Kylie Gwynne from the Department of Medicine, Health and Human Sciences.
In partnership with three Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services spanning urban, rural and remote geographical areas, the researchers will use the World Health Organisations framework for health systems performance to map the current healthcare system for OM in Aboriginal children. Then, together with the three Aboriginal communities, co-design, implement and evaluate a new approach to identifying and treating hearing loss early and effectively.
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