A child being tested for his hearing.
DOHA: Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) is raising awareness among people about how important it is to give children with hearing disabilities an equal right to an effective and everyday learning environment.
The activities will coincide with World Deaf Awareness Week, which this year focuses on equality for deaf people.
Public events are set to be held to create awareness about early detection throughout the year in malls, hospitals and schools.
Experts recommend anyone concerned that their or a family members’ hearing is impaired, should make an appointment with a primary care physician or general practitioner to be assessed for referral to the Audiology Department at HMC.
Dr Khalid Abdul Hadi, Head of the Audiology and Balance Unit, says integration is key to a child’s development. He also notes the importance of early detection of hearing loss and effective treatment, including the use of specialist medical devices.
“Where it is possible, it is important to allow children, who have hearing aids or cochlear implants, to learn and play in an everyday environment surrounded by children who do not have hearing issues. Research demonstrates that hearing impaired children learn more effectively and develop language and social skills to a much higher standard than those who are segregated,” says Dr Hadi.
HMC, in cooperation with the Supreme Council of Health and the Ministry of Education, are developing a programme whereby teachers in non-specialist schools will be trained to teach hearing impaired children alongside the hearing-able to better their opportunities.
“We are excited about this development as it will give the children we treat the support and integration they need to develop their potential in future life,” explained Dr Hadi.
Dr Hadi highlights that HMC has a very effective early screening, treatment and prevention programme which allows for the early detection of hearing loss. This programme screens children at birth; before they are discharged, again at two to three months and then again prior to starting school. This comprehensive process enables specialists, where possible, to begin treatment earlier, greatly benefiting a child’s formative years.
Treatment available at HMC is advanced and up-to-date with leading technologies. All children are assessed and treated according to their individual needs. A common device provided to children with hearing issues is a hearing aid which is externally fit to the ear to enable hearing improvement to various degrees. Another device is one which can be implanted internally to help children with profound deafness to hear again.
“At HMC we are fully equipped with the latest technologies to give our young patients and adults the best treatment. Our new laboratory for hearing aids allows us to completely tailor hearing aids to the individual which allows them to get the most out of their device. Similarly, our Cochlear implant programme, which began in 2005, is changing the lives of people who previously would have been segregated in society,” Dr Hadi explains.
“Treatment can change lives and administering treatment as early as possible means a better chance of preventing a worsening of symptoms,” he added.