Over 410K suffer from hearing impairment in UAE

(Supplied)

A new survey revealed that that four per cent of respondents identified, at least, one case of incidence in their families which means more than 410,000 people are suffering from hearing impairment problem.

“Taking into account hearing impairment amongst family members, the study revealed that 4% of respondents identified, at least, one case of incidence in their families. When applied to the projected UAE population, this number is equivalent to 410,525 individuals. Astoundingly, of those reported to have hearing impairment, a projected total of 142,863 individuals (34%) have not yet been fitted with hearing implants, hearing aids or undergone other hearing treatments. This is especially true for the younger generation of respondents’ sons and daughters,” Med-El Medical Electronics, the provider of hearing implant systems, said in the results of its recent survey.

Findings are categorised by the incidence of hearing impairment in families, general perceptions, and awareness regarding hearing screening for new-borns.

Furthermore, the study showed that 81% of the respondents acknowledged to having little to no awareness regarding the prevalence of hearing impairment. More surprisingly, less than a quarter of respondents – only 23% – completely agree to categorizing hearing impairment as one of the top 5 severe health issues in the UAE.

As a key highlight, the dismal results of newborn hearing screening in the UAE indicated that 62% of respondents - which amounts to more than two third of the total respondent pool - stated that their babies were not screened for hearing impairment.

The survey also revealed that 20 per cent were unaware that hearing screening could be performed for newborns. This in part could be attributed to a communication gap between parents to be and their healthcare providers, given that 82% said they had not discussed hearing screening with their healthcare provider before their delivery date.

Dr. Hussain Abdul Rahman Al Rand, FRCS Assistant Under Secretary, Health Centers and Clinics, UAE Ministry of Health, said: “At the Ministry of Health, it is our mission to ensure the wellbeing of all citizens, and we fully support the UAE’s 2021 vision of becoming among the best countries in the world for quality of healthcare. To that point, these survey results clearly show that hearing impairment is at risk of hindering the health and restricting the potential of many members of our community, should we not take the necessary precautions to educate them on the effects of undetected hearing loss, and set in place simple processes for earlier diagnosis and treatment.”

The survey was conducted by the Pan Arab Research Center on a sample of 523 married men and women across the United Arab Emirates from November to December 2015.

Summary of Key findings:

•             4% of respondents indicated they had a family history of hearing problems, totaling to about a projected total of 410,525 people in the UAE alone.

•             Only 56% of respondents believe that hearing impairment is a highly severe health issue

•             Less than a quarter of respondents – 23% completely agree to hearing loss being one of the top 5 severe health issues in the UAE

•             An astounding 81% of the survey sample acknowledged having little to no awareness regarding the prevalence of hearing impairment

•             20% of respondents are not at all aware that hearing screening could be performed for newborn babies

•             62% which amounts to more than two third of the total respondent pool stated that their babies were not screened for hearing

•             A total of 82% said they had not discussed hearing screening for their babies with their healthcare professionals prior to their delivery

•             87% of respondents agree that newborn hearing screening should be mandatory practice

•             91% of respondents believe there should stronger collaborations between private and public sector to tackle hearing issues

•             Of the total survey sample (523), 95% feel that hearing issues are not as openly discussed as other health issues

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