Equipment to test for early hearing loss donated

GINA, GUYANA, Thursday, January 19, 2017

The United Women for Special Children UWSC group today handed over an Otoacoustic Emissions (OAE) screener to the Audiology unit of the Ministry of Public Health. The equipment is valued $1.3M GYD and will enable early diagnosis of hearing disability in newborn babies.

Receiving the donation on behalf of the Ministry of Public Health was Director of Disability and Rehabilitative Services, Ariane Mangar.

Mangar noted the timeliness of the donation and said it will allow for early diagnosis of  hearing disabilities in children.

Member of the United Women for Special Children Group, Ann Geer and President of the group, Jennifer Prashad (both left) hands over the Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) screener to Ariane Mangar, Director of Disability and Rehabilitation services, Ministry of Public Health.

The UWSC has been contributing to the Audiology unit for a number of years. The unit which is housed at the Georgetown Public Hospital had received a similar donation of an OAE screener back in 2003. That piece of equipment has served its full time and purpose and the USWC has stepped in to replace it.

OAE tests primarily determine cochlear status. This information can be used to screen hearing ability particularly in neonates, infants or individuals with developmental disabilities, partially estimate hearing sensitivity within a limited range, differentiate between the sensory and neural components of sensorineural hearing loss, and test for functional (feigned) hearing loss.

According to statistics presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, newborn babies are diagnosed with a hearing disability as a result of complication during the mother’s pregnancy. These complications include birth asphyxia (lack of oxygen at the time of birth), inappropriate use of drugs during pregnancy such as aminoglycosides, cytotoxic drugs, antimalarial drugs and diuretics and severe jaundice during neonatal period, which can damage the hearing nerve in a newborn infant.

Half of all cases of hearing loss in babies are avoidable through primary prevention.

More than 90 per cent of all babies born in Guyana are screened for hearing disabilities. However, a small percentage of these are diagnosed with the disability.

The UWSC was founded in 1987 with the primary objective of helping children with special needs meet their highest potential. The Non-Government Organisation (NGO)  garners funds from  donations, through fund raising activities such as bazaar sales, contributions from donors, membership fees, raffles and printed cards by local (Guyanese) artists.

By: Delicia Haynes

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