April 28, 2007
Dubai seminar highlights cochlear implant as effective solution to deafness
From: AME Info (press release) - United Arab Emirates - Apr 28, 2007
by Lara Lynn Golden, News Editor
Every five years a generation is lost to deafness in Third World countries as medical breakthrough technologies, available in developed countries since 1991, remains out of reach of the poor nations, according to a leading Dubai ENT specialist.
'The incidence of deafness in the Middle East is two out of every 500 live births, while in the West it is one out of every 500 births,' said Dr. Muazz Tarabichi, an American Board Certified Ear, Nose and Throat Specialist at the American Hospital Dubai.
Dr. Tarabichi was speaking at a Deafness Week Seminar organised jointly by the College of Information Technology, University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) and the American Hospital in Dubai on 'Rehabilitation of Deaf Children in Third World Countriesâ€¦the time for action is now.'
Dr. Tarabichi was joined by audiologist Dr. Rana Batterjee, also from the American Hospital, Dubai. Dr. Batterjee is a clinical audiologist who has over 10 years of experience in evaluating hearing in children and adults. She emphasised that society in general and parents particularly, play a critical role in providing a hearing impaired child the right support to enable them to live a fuller life. 'Sadly, many children end up living in loneliness and social isolation which in some ways is worse than their medical condition' she said.
While describing Cochlear Implantation (CI) as 'one of the most successful, life transforming, and expensive intervention in medicine today,' Dr Tarabichi said the different CI manufacturers are unable to cater to the needs of Third World countries.
'A CI device consisting of an internal and external apparatus costs approximately US$30,000 to $40,000. A software engineer in India, for example, who could in all likelihood be involved in programming such a device, would have to dedicate his entire income for six years just for the cost of the device, while a teacher would have to dedicate his earnings for 24 years.'
Dr Tarabichi said a deaf child could only be helped up to the age of five, and after this age 'even CI would not be of any help. The time to act is now.'
Dr. Catherine Todd, Assistant Professor of the College of Information Technology at UOWD and one of the seminar organisers, said that raising awareness about such an important issue is critical in shaping the mind-set of general public and rendering their support for the cause.
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