ASHA Renews Status With PAHO, Stage Set for Continued Collaboration

“We are excited by the prospect of continuing our joint work with PAHO and honored to have worked with the countries we have,” said ASHA President A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has renewed its status as a Non-State Actor (NSA) in Official Relations with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The granting of this special status is the result of an exhaustive analysis undertaken within the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors. The status, which applies for 3 years, will allow ASHA to continue its work with PAHO, strengthening the knowledge and building the capacity of Latin American and Caribbean professionals and institutions addressing communication disorders in the areas of speech, language, swallowing, and hearing.

PAHO first conferred this status on ASHA 7 years ago, although the term then was “Non-Governmental Organization (NGO).” Subsequently, PAHO replaced “NGO” with “Non-State Actor (NSA),” a change only in terminology. It did not impact the nature of ASHA–PAHO’s collaborative work, and ASHA continued to have the opportunity to participate in high-level PAHO and WHO meetings.

“We are excited by the prospect of continuing our joint work with PAHO and honored to have worked with the countries we have, helping to provide them with solid foundations for delivering comprehensive services for treating communication disorders,” said ASHA President A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP.

As of today, the ASHA–PAHO collaboration has conducted support in six countries: Honduras, El Salvador, Guyana, Paraguay, Belize, and Ecuador. In each collaboration, the ASHA members of an ASHA–PAHO ad hoc committee have collaborated with key stakeholders to develop a sustainable project that supports individuals who have communication disorders.

Over the years, the collaboration has yielded impressive results:

  • In Honduras, ASHA–PAHO ad hoc committee members helped the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Honduras create the curriculum for its new phonoaudiology program (a combination of audiology and speech-language pathology). Twenty-seven students will graduate from the program in 2022. They will be the first graduates to hold a degree of this kind in Honduras. A second cohort of 20 students started in 2019 and will graduate in 2023.
  • In El Salvador, ASHA–PAHO ad hoc committee members helped develop a comprehensive educational resource package, in Spanish, for different levels of professionals at the Instituto Salvadoreño de Rehabilitación Integral who treat children and adults with hearing loss.
  • Guyana’s Ministry of Health worked with ASHA–PAHO ad hoc committee members to strengthen the country’s approach to early detection and intervention in communication disorders. The result was the development of a new speech-language/audiology program at the University of Guyana. Five students graduated in 2018. All of them have governmental jobs. A second cohort of 11 students will graduate at the end of 2022. ASHA recruited 27 faculty members for the program.
  • In Paraguay, an ad hoc committee conducted three train-the-trainer workshops for clinical services. The committee trained 35 service providers and 15 parents of children with disabilities. This is the country’s very first network of professionals in the area of communication disorders.
  • Created in 2017, Belize’s ad hoc committee implemented two train-the-trainer workshops. The committee trained 34 service providers from governmental agencies and schools throughout the country.
  • In Ecuador, the ASHA–PAHO collaboration is still ongoing. In 2020, the ad hoc committee conducted five train-the-trainer workshops virtually on different topics. Participants included 50 phonoaudiologists from the Ministry of Public Health and 20 faculty members from two universities (Cuenca and Central). A second round of train-the trainer virtual workshops will take place in other regions of Ecuador in 2021.

Looking ahead through the end of 2023, the overall objective of the ASHA–PAHO collaboration will be to carry out its original mission with these specific objectives:

  • ASHA–PAHO will continue providing technical assistance to selected countries by appointing ASHA content experts to serve on ASHA–PAHO ad hoc committees.
  • Through analysis of country data on communication disorders, ASHA will improve awareness of gaps between needs and service availability in the areas of audiology and speech-language pathology in the PAHO region.

“We foresee expanding, doing ASHA–PAHO collaborative work in more countries and contributing to data collection on communication disorders in the PAHO region,” ASHA President Williams said.

Visit this link for further information about the ASHA–PAHO collaboration:

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) identify, assess, and treat speech, language, and swallowing disorders.

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