Report by: Dr Priya Carling, AuD, Director and Consultant Audiologist
IFOS in collaboration with SFORL, the French Otolaryngology Society, and together with GCC Otology, held a three-day master course on hearing rehabilitation in Dubai in March. The course was aimed at otologists, audiologists, speech-language therapists, health policy makers, hearing aid dispensers and commercial hearing aid and cochlear implant companies. The intention is to be widely inclusive and diverse, and to encourage attendance of those who wish to lead their respective fields, creating impact on service delivery. The course was divided into three distinct themes over the three days, addressing technical aspects and the ways in which services are delivered globally.
Day one addressed global hearing health. Speakers included a range of professionals from Europe and the Middle East, looking at country-specific needs and the global burden of hearing loss and alluded to the WHO response. In discussion with the President of IFOS, Professor Fraysse, it was clear to see that the topics addressed were aligned with the IFOS mission of promoting and encouraging all stakeholders to be able to contribute to advocacy for hearing loss in each country to influence public health decision-making, while taking into account the economic impact of inaction.
Roundtables in the afternoon addressed issues of access to hearing healthcare, and strategies to improve access to technologies and assistive technologies. Topics included over-the-counter hearing aids, telemedicine, and establishing national training programmes for audiology.
The second day was audiology-focused, covering both paediatric and adult audiology, including vestibular topics. It was very interesting to hear from people across various countries, compare approaches and criteria for diagnosis and management of hearing loss, from new-born hearing screening programmes to diagnosis and management of hearing loss, including cochlear and middle ear implantation in children. There was a recap of literature and evidence, coupled with clinical experiences and practices, leading to some thought-provoking discussions amongst the participants and speakers.
The second half of the day also included considerations of ANSD, CAPD and links between hearing and cognition. The clinical cases rounding off the sessions helped to consolidate the topics covered and explore different approaches and outcomes.
The last day had a surgical focus. The presentations and video sessions ranged from various aspects of middle ear disease, presentation to management, including audiological considerations to complications of the disease.
The final session looked at innovation in otology. Innovation in education for otology proved to be a welcome discussion point as this was a novel topic on the afternoon’s agenda, along with current research and future developments in inner ear drug delivery.
The conference closed with a session on clinical guidelines and recommendations for management of sudden hearing loss, vestibular schwannoma and paragangliomas.
The conference structure had a good balance of theory, knowledge and evidence of the presenters, and also included videos and clinical cases. Having moderators at each session ensured that participants were able to engage in discussions and voice questions and clarifications based on the presentations. While each meeting held by IFOS can be very specific to certain topics or themes, it also provided networking and mentoring opportunities for participants and speakers.