Lest We Forget


Compiled by Chan Chee Khiong

Major success in implant surgery

AM Zukarnaen & Nur Abdullah

March 18, 2001 – Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital has achieved a major medical success in implant surgery by performing the first cochlear implant surgery on a local child.

Five-year-old Yana Marsita binti Sabtu who had suffered hearing loss after an attack of meningitis at the age of three is reported to have made a quick recovery following the surgery.

Local Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery Specialist Dr Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi carried out the operation, on March 12. Professor Lokman Saim, from the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, who is an expert in cochlear implant surgery in Malaysia, assisted him.

“The operation took about four hours. Yana’s doing well.

“She was up and about the next day after the surgery and she needs to come back after three or four weeks for a physical check up,” said Dr Zulkarnain.

Acting Minister of Health Pehin Dato Haji Awang Hussain, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Health Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Ahmad bin Dato Paduka Matnor, Dr Zulkarnain bin Haji Hanafi, Sabtu bin Haji Alim, Nissila binti Shariee and Yana Marsita binti Sabtu. PHOTO: NUR ABDULLAH

A smiling Yana Marsita, student of Sengkurong Primary School, was discharged yesterday.

“I’m very happy,” was the first thing her father Sabtu bin Haji Alim said about the first cochlear implant surgery, successfully performed, on his daughter.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to the Ministry of Health (MoH), Islamic Bank of Brunei (IBB) and all those who were involved in it,” said Sabtu last morning.

Yana Marsita had suffered profound hearing loss and even with the help of powerful conventional hearing aids, had developed signs of delayed speech and language development.

“We realised there was a problem when Yana did not respond when we called out her name, and we noticed that she sat too close to the TV,” said her mother, Nissila binti Shariee.

“Yana knows a bit of sign language and she remembered some words which she learnt before she lost hearing, such as ‘mama’,” she added.

Dr Zulkarnain said that the challenging part of her recovery would be the rehabilitation process, which could take up to 18 months.

The Audiologists and Speech Therapists at RIPAS Hospital are deeply involved in the rehabilitation process.

Wati binti Haji Bujang, one of the speech therapists who will be working closely with Yana Marsita and her family, said, “Yana will have to learn to hear again from the beginning with her ‘new ear’, just like a baby.”

According to Dr Zulkarnain, the team at RIPAS Hospital will be planning further cochlear implant surgery in the next three to four months. They are also planning to carry out between six to 10 operations per year.

The initial intensive rehabilitation process may last up to 18 months but this largely depends on the individual. Progress with the Cochlear Implant is monitored regularly until the wearer has achieved the maximum benefit. The cochlear implant is lifetime commitment by both the wearer and the professionals providing advice and support

Dr Zulkarnain revealed that the progressive nature of most permanent hearing loss can be helped by stimulating the remaining hearing and therefore restoring a very acceptable level of auditory verbal communication.

For a number of children and adults the hearing instrument cannot provide enough satisfactory stimulation of the remaining hearing.

The learning process involves the expertise of many professionals who will guide the implant wearers through the rehabilitation process. It involves programming and re-programming of the processor of the cochlear implant and the teaching of auditory verbal skills that have been lost or degraded, Dr Zulkarnain said.

Dr Zulkarnain said that the MoH wishes to convey its appreciation to IBB who had donated the first three cochlear implant units to the ministry, where each unit cost approximately BND25,000.

“Any contributions from the community to this worthwhile cause is much appreciated as the cost of the implants play a major role in the number of cochlear implant operations that can be performed,” added Dr Zulkarnain.

Yana Marsita was all smiles again when she received a visit from the Acting Minister of Health Pehin Dato Haji Awang Hussain yesterday morning. Also present were the Permanent Secretary at the MoH Dato Seri Laila Jasa Haji Ahmad bin Dato Paduka Matnor, officers and employees of the MoH.

Amah turned ‘bomoh’ nabbed

Ayu Amalinie Sulaiman

March 18, 2001 – Traditional medicine closely associated with black magic is against the teachings of Islam. The Akidah and Syariah Control Unit of the Ministry of Religious Affairs (MoRA), bent on weeding out such practices from Brunei society, raided a house in Kampong Keriam in Tutong, on Thursday.

Entering the premises together with officers of the Enforcement Section of the Immigration and National Registration Department (INRD), they found an Indonesian amah in one of the rooms, about to massage one of her three female visitors.

Further investigations revealed that she would allegedly function as a bomoh after her working hours. Also found at the scene were cash, a handkerchief and gemstones as well as documents contrary to the teachings of Islam.

Speaking to the Bulletin was Senior Chief Immigration Officer at the Enforcement Section of the INRD Juma’at bin Haji Burut.

The Sunday Bulletin learned that when an employment pass is issued, the person who holds it is allowed to enter the Sultanate within the period stated for the purpose of working or engaging in employment in Brunei as specified in the pass.


Juma’at also said whoever was found engaging in any other form of employment is subject to be charged under the Immigration Act Section 15 (2) Chapter 17.

A special pass was issued for the Indonesian amah to present herself at the Investigation Unit of the Enforcement Section, INRD for further questioning.

The 45-year old Indonesian woman was also summoned to the Akidah and Syariah Control Unit yesterday morning for further questioning. Among the items seized pending further investigation were a mattress, a hand phone and various items allegedly used in traditional medicine.