| Siti Hajar |
THE country’s healthcare system has seen notable growth over the past few years, especially with the introduction of various programmes aimed at providing the population with an even higher quality of life. Among the many health programmes introduced recently was the Bone Anchor Hearing Aid (BAHA) programme, which aims to provide people with certain types of hearing impairment a chance to lead a normal life.
Speaking on the sidelines of yesterday’s Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Updates seminar, Associate Specialist for ENT, Head of Otorhinolaryngology and surgeon Dr Pg Hajah Norsuhazenah binti Pg Suhaili, shared that the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital commenced the BAHA programme in March this year and four patients have undergone this procedures. She also noted that the procedures have produced positive results.
“We hope to be able to help at least six people a year under this initiative,” with two patients per programme cycle regardless of age, race or gender.
Among those who have successfully received the BAHA treatment include a six-year-old boy, 17 and 21-year-old female students as well as a 45-year-old man, all of whom were living with partial hearing due to dysfunction of either one or both ears.
The programme, which she also described as part of a hearing rehabilitation process, involves minor surgery that connects a device implanted behind the non-functioning ear.
This enables the production of sound through bone conduction, offering a more effective alternative to the traditional hearing aid.
Though she acknowledged that Brunei is a little late to the BAHA game, she did express gratitude to His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam’s Government for the support that the department has been given as it strives to offer the best for its patients.
For the duration of the initiative, it was also shared that RIPAS Hospital has engaged a Malaysian practitioner who supervises the BAHA procedures as local healthcare professionals hone their skills under the programme.
With time, professionals at RIPAS Hospital will be able to conduct these procedures on their own with confidence.
In ensuring that the population is provided with opportunities to live comfortably through quality healthcare, it was also added that RIPAS Hospital is looking to implement an extension to the current new-born check-ups as of next year through the use of non-invasive technology that can detect hearing function in infants right after birth.
“It is important for us to ensure that instances of hearing loss is detected at the earliest possible stage to enable the facilitation of treatment,” without compromising the development of a child, she said, considering how the correlation between hearing and learning to communicate could potentially affect the outcome of a child’s future.
Parents also play an important role in providing young patients with the necessary help they need, she reminded, highlighting various measures that parents should take if they notice developmental delays in their children.
“One of the many signs of hearing impediment in children is speech delay, especially in toddlers as young as one or two years of age,” many of whom should be able to already form sentences, she said. If something is notably amiss, she encouraged parents to seek medical advice from healthcare professionals.
Another programme that was recently revived in 2011 after almost a decade of inactivity, she further shared, is the cochlear implant programme.
Currently, doctors are identifying prime candidates to undergo cochlear implant treatment following the success of three candidates who have been sent to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore for treatment, with cost borne by the government.