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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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Tuesday, March 28, 2023
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    Hearing a vital life asset, says minister

    James Kon

    Hearing is a life asset that plays a vital role in carrying out daily life. Hearing starts as early as in the womb, enabling newborns to identify their mother and father’s voices.

    This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar in his message for the World Hearing Day celebration yesterday.

    “Hearing also enables newborns to respond while playing, mimic sounds of conversations and express words and then speak with ease of understanding.

    “Hearing enables us to interact with family and others, carry out daily tasks, and make it easier to learn at school.”

    The minister shared that in Brunei Darussalam, the Audiology Service statistics show that in 2022, 162 new patients were identified as suffering mild to moderate hearing loss involving one-sided hearing loss. Sixty-one were children under the age of 12.

    Meanwhile, 33 were identified as having severe to very severe hearing loss, with 17 of them children under age of 12.

    For hearing loss in both ears (bilateral hearing loss), the statistics showed that 540 patients were at a mild to moderate level, including 70 children under the age of 12.

    Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar. PHOTO: MOH

    Ninety-four patients had severe to very severe hearing loss with two of them aged under 12.

    The minister said, “The problem of hearing loss occurs if an individual can’t hear normally. In general, people with hearing problems do not show any physical abnormalities.

    “The level of hearing loss can be at a mild, moderate, severe or very severe level and can involve one or both ears. Individuals with mild to moderate hearing loss experience difficulty in hearing, while for individuals with severe or very severe hearing loss, the ability to listen is very limited (deaf).”

    Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said, “According to the World Health Organization (WHO), it is estimated that one in 10 individuals worldwide will experience significant hearing loss or disabling by 2025.

    “Every March 3, the world celebrates World Hearing Day with activities to promote the importance of ears and hearing care toward prevention of hearing loss.

    “This year’s World Hearing Day celebration comes with the theme ‘Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality’, which emphasises the importance of integrated ear and hearing care at the basic healthcare or primary care level. Ear and hearing problems are among the most common to get checked and treated at the community level through health centres and clinics.”

    In the Sultanate, more than 60 per cent of ear and hearing problems were addressed at the primary care level.

    Statistics obtained between 2021 and 2022 from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital showed that 1,980 patients with ear problems were referred to otorhinolaryngologist clinics.

    Four common problems were earwax, foreign object inside ears, ear infections and hearing loss.

    “One important component in strengthening primary healthcare facilities to integrate ear and hearing care at this level is providing relevant skills through training organised by the WHO,” he said.

    Therefore, the minister added, “The Ministry of Health, through the cooperation between the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, the Primary Healthcare Services and the Department of Nursing Services, is drafting a training programme curriculum ‘Aural care for nurses in the community’.

    “It is the hoped that this programme will become a reality to achieve the mission under the WHO.”

    In conjunction of the World Hearing Day 2023 celebration, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said the WHO will launch the Primary Ear and Hearing Care Training Manual today.

    The manual is a skill training guidebook for doctors, healthcare workers, such as nurses at primary healthcare facilities or under monitoring physicians, and allied health professionals, such as audiologists specialising in ear and hearing problems.

    The manual is also expected to generate effectiveness in dealing with hearing and ear problems at the primary care level by doctors or trained nurses.

    The minister shared ear and hearing care tips such as avoiding inserting foreign objects into the ear, stopping the habit of digging ears, seeing a doctor in case of ear pain, using ear protection devices in loud environments, avoid sharing ear phones or ear buds, reducing the volume of audio devices and avoiding prolonged use of audio devices.

    “Hearing loss prevention is very important throughout life, starting from the development of children inside the womb to senior age.

    “A majority of hearing loss problems can be prevented through implementing effective strategies like immunisation programmes, maternal healthcare programme, identifying and early treatment of hearing problem, hearing conservation programmes for noisy workplace environments and listening safety strategy during recreational activities,” the minister added.

    “Let’s take care of the health of the ears and hearing to achieve the goals to prevent and reduce the impact of hearing loss globally.“

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