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January 23, 2006

Hi-tech help for babies with hearing problems

From: Gulf Daily News, Bahrain - Jan 23, 2006


HEARING problems in more than 1,500 babies a year may now be detected within their first few months, thanks to a charity campaign.

The Rotary Club of Adliya Bahrain Golf Invitational (BGI) committee is raising money to purchase high-tech equipment that detects hearing impairment in newborns.

The committee has already raised BD46,000, but its goal is raise more than BD80,000, which will be used to purchase eight high-technology pieces of apparatus.

The equipment will be used in main health centres in each of Bahrain's five governorates and at the Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) Neonatal Unit.

In Bahrain there are 1.1 profoundly deaf children born per every 1,000 live births, which is around 13 new cases a year, Cochlear Implantation and Hearing Impairment Society chairman Dr Ahmed Jamal told at a Press conference held at the Riffa Golf Club yesterday.

He added that around 100 to 150 children born per every 1,000 live births would have mild, or moderate hearing impairment, which is around 1,500 children a year.

"The machine not only detects children with profound hearing loss, but also those who are slightly deaf," Dr Jamal told the GDN.

"With these children, if they are detected early on we can perform surgery, or give them hearing aids and this will help them greatly because hearing impairment effects learning and speech."

The special apparatus to be purchased by the BGI committee is known as the Oto Acoustic Emission Test (OAE). The OAE is a small probe inserted into the ear that sends out sounds and records the responses that come back from the cochlea (inner ear).

Early detection is crucial because hearing impairment is on the increase, revealed Health Ministry Assistant Under-Secretary for Human and Financial Resources Ebrahim Shehab.

Last year, he said, the Health Ministry performed 19 successful cochlear implant operations, which cost around BD230,000.

A cochlear implant is an electronic device that provides hearing sensation to individuals with severe to profound hearing loss, who do not benefit from hearing aids.

There are still 24 children and six adults on the waiting list for implants.

Dr Jamal said around seven to 10 children born every year will need cochlear implants and the earlier they receive them, the more successful it will be.

SMC ENT department chairman Dr Abdul Rahman Ghareeb said early intervention was vital and the the purchase of the new equipment meant that within a couple of years all newborns would be screened as a matter of course.

BGI organising committee chairman Dr Yousef Mashal said he hoped the BGI would also raise enough money to buy the apparatus for maternity hospitals in Muharraq and Jidhafs.

He thanked all companies and individuals that had donated to the campaign and said the club would continue to promote the cause throughout the year.

The BGI 2006 tournament opening ceremony will be held at 3.30pm on Thursday at the Bahrain International Circuit, Sakhir. The tournament proper kicks off at 7am on Friday at the Riffa Golf Club and prizes and a closing ceremony will be held at the same venue at 7pm.

The competition will follow a Texas Scramble format, with each team consisting of two players.

To participate contact Mike Braidwood 17750777, or email: To make a donation, to sponsor the event, or for more information contact Dr Mashal at 39604450.

Copyright © 2004, Gulf Daily News