With a heart and smile as big as he is tall, Alfred Mwamba, AuD ’15, is the first –and currently only – certified audiologist in his native Zambia, which has a population of 15 million. His certification number is 00001.
Visiting audiologists who come to Zambia tend to stay for just 12 to 18 months, according to Dr. Mwamba, and the government’s minimum residency period for certification is 24 months. A practitioner with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Hampton University, and a Master of Science degree in Hearing Sciences from Purdue University, Dr. Mwamba has a clear vision of how he wants to change the delivery of hearing care in Zambia.
Dr. Mwamba is an audiologist at the Beit CURE Trust Children’s Hospital, situated on the outskirts of Lusaka, the capital of Zambia, where he, his wife, Sheeba, and their two-year old son reside. There are an estimated 50,000+ people in Lusaka alone with disabling ear and hearing problems and more than fifty percent (50%) of those problems are due to preventable conditions.
Alfred Mwamba’s vision is “2MillionBy2030.” He believes passionately that by training more nurses over the next 15 years, two million people can be helped by the year 2030. In developing countries, where an ailment such as a perforated eardrum can prove fatal, this would save lives and change countless other lives for the better.
Converting his hospital office into a classroom, he currently teaches a nurse from Cameroon, one nurse from Gambia, and one nurse and two technicians from Zambia. “In creating a new program that no one knows and understands, sometimes one has to take bold steps,” he notes. He has begun to think in larger terms and says with a smile, “I have actually decided to build a college, so that we don’t have to squeeze into my office.” He has tried to get his program into several universities with little success so far, “because they only provide programs which are at bachelor’s degree level.” He notes that “there are very few audiology programs in Africa, and South Africa is the only country with a degree-granting program in the sub-Saharan region.”
In order to create a sequential training model that he hopes will one day culminate in a degree program, Dr. Mwamba has begun a fundraising campaign to build a campus to train hearing instrument specialists as well as speech therapists and “who knows what else in the future.” Beit CURE Hospital has donated land, so now, in addition to seeing patients and training his students, he focuses on raising $3 million to provide those “2MillionBy2030” professionals with a training facility.
He acknowledges the challenges and problems and notes that they “require a different set of thinking,” adding that creating a new training institution to meet this need seemed like the most logical thing to do. Dr. Mwamba explains in order to attain his goal of “creating a sequential-training model that will one day culminate in a degree program,” he has to become “bold and creative.” For his Salus teachers and classmates, there is little doubt that he will succeed.
Pictured at right with President Mittelman and Dean Bray (far right, rows 1 & 2)
are faculty and the Audiology Class of 2015.
Dr. Mwamba is on the right in the last row.