Original Research

The impact of COVID-19 on speech–language and hearing professions in low- and middle-income countries: Challenges and opportunities explored

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe, Joanne Neille, Anita Edwards
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 69, No 2 | a937 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v%25vi%25i.937 | © 2022 Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe, Joanne Neille, Anita Edwards | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 May 2022 | Published: 09 September 2022

About the author(s)

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nomfundo Moroe, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Joanne Neille, Department of Speech–Language Pathology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Anita Edwards, Africa Health Research Institute, Mtubatuba, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Since the advent of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the speech–language and hearing (SLH) professions globally have been confronted with novel and unexpected challenges.

Objective: The aim of this article was to explore the impact of COVID-19 on SLH professions in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) as presented in the Special Issue of the South African Journal of Communication Disorders in the year 2022.

Method: Divergent from the standard editorial writing style, this editorial adopted a research approach where a qualitative, descriptive scoping review design was conducted to meet the objectives of the study. Three specific objectives were targeted: (1) exploring the challenges to SLH research, teaching and practice; (2) establishing evidence-based solutions available for these challenges that can be used to improve the professions’ response in the post-pandemic era; and (3) determining the areas that require further investigation, alternative solutions and innovation for improved readiness for future pandemics. A total of 21 manuscripts were reviewed that covered three predetermined themes – research, teaching and practice – that were constructed through a deductive approach as part of the call for papers for the special issue. These manuscripts were from academics, researchers and clinicians from various institutions in LMICs. The review is presented using thematic analysis.

Results: The review raised important challenges, presented under various subthemes, to the three key themes. These challenges reflect on the impact of COVID-19 on the SLH professions in terms of research, teaching, service provision and ethical challenges, as well as its impact on speech language, hearing, swallowing and balance functions. The review also advanced solutions and future directions during and beyond COVID-19.

Conclusion: These findings raise global implications for research, teaching and practice that are not only relevant to the SLH professions.


Keywords

audiology; COVID-19; teaching and learning; practice; speech–language pathology; clinical research; hearing professions

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