When Alfred Mwamba, AuD ‘14, graduated from Salus University’s Osborne College of Audiology (OCA), he became the first and only audiologist in his home country of Zambia, southern Africa.
And, although the sad reality is that Dr. Mwamba is still the only audiologist in Zambia all these years later, he is working hard to change that. Through his efforts as chief of the Starkey Hearing Institute in Lusaka, Zambia, which is part of the Starkey Hearing Foundation based in Minnesota, Dr. Mwamba has trained 83 people serving in 17 countries across Africa in hearing healthcare services. By the end of this year, that number will increase to 103 hearing healthcare-trained individuals.
Alfred Mwamba“With that journey, we have increased access to hearing healthcare in a continent where there’s a need for more than 25,000 professionals,” said Dr. Mwamba during a recent visit to the University’s Elkins Park, Pennsylvania campus. “Having said that, the reason why I do what I do now, which is training professionals in learning hearing healthcare, is to fill that gap. I spend most of my time training hearing specialists or hearing aid dispensers from all across Africa.”
He started his hearing healthcare journey during undergraduate school at Hampton University in Virginia, where he also played tennis. It just so happened that his tennis coach was also the head of the hearing and speech department, and that’s how he graduated with a degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from Hampton. “It was easy for the coach to recruit me into communicative sciences and disorders because my grandmother had a stroke and wasn’t speaking too well. I had a good relationship with my grandmother and that’s how I ended up doing hearing and speech,” said Dr. Mwamba.
He preferred audiology to speech-language pathology, and that landed him at Purdue University, where he attained his master’s degree in audiology in 2004. Dr. Mwamba returned to Zambia after graduation and began practicing hearing healthcare.
In 2012, he entered the OCA Doctor of Audiology (AuD) bridge program because, at the time, he was searching for a distance education program that also accepted international students. He found Salus University had re-activated the AuD Degree Bridge program and he joined the first cohort of the program. It fit his needs perfectly, he said.
“Having already completed his master’s degree, the Salus program was more about strengthening those few areas which I hadn’t experienced,” said Dr. Mwamba. “What’s unique about the program is the practical aspect of it. Even a practicing professional can get great benefits from doing a program with Salus. The University really is at the front edge of ensuring that whatever is new in the industry, they’re always researching and providing that practical experience on how you can make that applicable in your everyday practice.”
For the past several years, Dr. Mwamba and Giri Sundar, MPhil, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, director of Distance Education Programs and OCA associate professor, have been working together on what Dr. Mwamba calls “a scaffolding training program” that he can utilize in Zambia. He’s also excited about the merger of Salus and Drexel University and the possibilities that brings.
“It would change many people’s lives, not only the patients but also the practitioners by having that higher qualification from the best educational institution in the world,” he said. “I think the work that we do is more important than anything else. So, that’s the focus. We keep trying to make others better so that everybody can win.”
Dr. Sundar recognizes the need is great for hearing healthcare services across Africa, and toward that end, she considers training professionals to meet the demands, which is of paramount importance. Hence, she has worked with Dr. Mwamba toward that goal.
“One of the ways to expand hearing care services from the ground is by providing basic audiometric training to local nurses and community health workers. From amongst those that may be interested in pursuing further training we can train them toward expanding their skills so they can envision a career path in audiology,” said Dr. Sundar.
Additionally, she added, the two designed a rubric where one could conceivably migrate people from just the basic audiology technician level training program to that of a diploma level and potentially a bachelor’s degree level.

“The idea is to create a path for training and learning while they are working. OCA now has a master’s program as well,” she said.
According to Dr. Mwamba, the University’s forward thinking and global perspective have both been tremendous assets for him as he moves forward with his training goals.
“That’s something that is unique with this program because many institutions are so focused within themselves. Salus has that kind of leadership that looks at the world as one,” he said. “Every human being on the planet needing access to hearing healthcare education can do it at an institution of the highest quality possible. Salus stands out from any other institution in that aspect.”