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January 31, 2006

Hearing checks for all children

From: Gulf Daily News, Bahrain - Jan 31, 2006


A NATIONAL plan to ensure that all children born in Bahrain are screened for hearing impairment was announced last night by the Health Ministry.

Early detection means that treatment would be more effective and that fewer children would grow up needing special care.

This could make Bahrain the first country in the developing world to have such a programme, said Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) ear, nose and throat (ENT) department chairman Dr Abdulrahman Ghareeb.

"We have had a lot of success with cochlear implants and other hearing treatments, but the earlier the detection, the more effective they are," he said.

"The Health Ministry has showed its support for the plan for which we need strong co-ordination between its primary and secondary care directorates."

Dr Ghareeb said the screening would be done through primary care centres, including the SMC and the health centres, but that treatment and follow-up would be at secondary care facilities such as the SMC's hearing impairment clinic.

"This plan will profoundly improve the lives of children born with hearing problems who are treated early," he said.

"They will not have to go to special schools. They will be just like normal children."

Dr Ghareeb was speaking at a Rotary Club of Adliya meeting held at the Diplomat Radisson SAS Hotel last night.

The event was attended by Rotarians, members of the Cochlear Implantation and Hearing Impairment Society and other guests.

The club held its annual Bahrain Golf Invitational (BGI) over the weekend, aimed at raising BD80,000 to purchase eight high technology pieces of apparatus that can detect hearing impairment among infants.

The equipment will be used in the main health centres in each of Bahrain's five governorates and at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) Natal Unit. BGI chairman Dr Yousef Mashal said a total of BD48,000 has so far been collected from sponsors and other supporters but that the money is still coming in. In Bahrain there are 1.1 profoundly deaf children born per every 1,000 live births, which is around 13 new cases a year.

Copyright © 2004, Gulf Daily News