Auditory implant surgery at RIPAS Hospital

|     Danial Norjidi     |

THE Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Ministry of Health (MoH) is providing auditory implant surgery services this year at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital with cooperation and collaboration between auditory implant surgery experts from this region together with local ear, nose and throat (ENT) experts.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar shared this while at the Auditory Implant Forum 2019 at The Empire Hotel & Country Club yesterday.

He said the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 460 million people worldwide have significant hearing problems, and that out of this total, around 34 million are children.

“In Brunei, about 30,000 individuals are estimated to have hearing problems at various stages and levels,” he said.

The minister noted that if an individual experiences hearing impairment from birth, it will affect speech and language development and the development of cognitive function.

Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar speaks at the event. – DANIAL NORJIDI

He said that this will have a negative impact on the children, especially on learning at school, affecting academic achievements and their future.

Meanwhile, hearing problems affecting adults will have an impact on communication, community life and can cause depression for those individuals because they feel isolated from society and separated from their surroundings, the minister said.

He referred to research conducted at a number of institutions in the United States, Australia and Asia, and shared that it has been proven that hearing problems can also quicken the process of dementia among senior citizens.

“In order to prevent the effect and impact of hearing impairment among the people of Brunei Darussalam in particular, the steps and assisted treatment to each individual are very important and should be prioritised,” he said.

“The first step in addressing this problem is to provide a hearing aid. For children, hearing aids should be provided along with speech therapy intervention. However, there is still a stigma problem among citizens and residents of Brunei regarding the use of hearing aids. Due to shame or fear of being misunderstood, they are willing to struggle with difficulty to continue with daily activities without using such aids and hearing without clarity,” he said.

“This should not be the case because everyone has the right to communicate like a normal person, even if it depends on a hearing aid.

“Currently, in addition to providing conventional hearing aids, there is a more sophisticated method that can be done to ensure that every individual with hearing impairment can hear optimally. This method is called an auditory implant,” shared the minister.

“This uses a high-tech device that allows hearing organs in the ear to be stimulated directly. This auditory implant is a highly effective method for those who can no longer be assisted by conventional hearing aids.”

He said in Brunei, child patients who previously required auditory implants were sent overseas to undergo auditory implant surgery.

He said for patients who get auditory implant surgery, it is a starting point for them to get new hearing abilities.

“To ensure that their hearing is effective, every individual who has received auditory implant surgery needs to undergo special rehabilitation therapy and continuous monitoring from Audiology Services, Speech and Language Therapy Services, Psychology and Teachers for the Hearing Impaired.

“In this case, to achieve high success that I very much hope that every auditory implant patient who has been identified, together with their families, will be able to give firm commitment by attending the rehabilitation therapy that has been set up to make a successful life of hearing with auditory implants.

“I urge everyone to further enhance understanding regarding auditory implants to change perceptions and open the minds of society to facilitate trained experts in conducting the auditory implant programme in Brunei to provide services to those who need them,” he added.