One in five for every 1,000 born in Sarawak affected with hearing loss — NGO

Medicine and healthcare. — file pic. // Photo: Pixabay

KUCHING, Feb 3: About one out of five of every 1,000 children in Sarawak are born with hearing impairment.

Sarawak Hearing and Aural Rehabilitation Society (Sarawak HEAR) president, Prof Dr Tang Ing Ping, said at present, some 400 million people worldwide are suffering a certain degree of hearing loss.

“This issue impacts the society even in Sarawak, as local statistics show that one to out of five, of 1,000 newborns, have certain levels of hearing impairment that requires urgent management.

“With around 40,000 births registered yearly, this becomes a significant issue,” Dr Tang, who is an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist and surgeon, said in a statement.

He added that early intervention will help to prevent these children from becoming mute.

“Hearing impaired children need to undergo hearing loss management, including medical and non-medical management, as soon as possible before they reach the critical age for hearing and speech acquisition before the age of four.

“If this deadline is not met, these children will face challenges and difficulties in their learning and communication. Without hearing loss management and rehabilitation, they have the risk of becoming mute – no hearing, no speech and no language ability,” he explained.

Another expert, speech and language therapist Dr Etain Vong, said newborn hearing screening is vital and needs more awareness especially among parents.

“Early detection is important because getting the right treatment early will enable the child to learn enough speech and language skills to enter mainstream education. Parents’ effort and commitment is important in this,” she continued.

For audiology consultant cum Sarawak HEAR vice president, Alexander Stephen, both patients and parents or caretakers must be committed in the rehabilitation journey.

“After medical or surgical hearing loss management, these patients together with their parents and caretakers will need to make full commitment in the hearing rehabilitation journey.

“It is a step by step process of acquiring optimum hearing and to get the best access of sound perception to the brain, which could possibly take from a few weeks up to three to six months, depending on their progress,” he said.

Meanwhile Angela Lim, mother of a hearing impaired child, said: “After my daughter had hearing implant surgery at three years old, we are very happy as she can finally understand us and respond to us. She can now express herself well.

“After the surgery, the therapy sessions we go to is very important. We dare not miss even one session. It helps us to understand her more and help her speak more.”

To help children with hearing disability, Sarawak HEAR will be holding its fund-raising concert dinner at the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Feb 15, 2020.

Tables are now on sale starting from RM5,000 per table.

“Sarawak HEAR is the only charity devoted to helping hearing impaired people, as well as their families. We hope to be able to raise more funds to help even more hearing impaired children in Sarawak, including those from the rural areas,” Sarawak HEAR said.

For more information on the concert dinner, those interested can contact the association at 082-575466 or email — DayakDaily