Hearing screening available for all newborns next year

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

UNIVERSAL hearing screening will be available for all newborns starting next year, the Minister of Health said yesterday.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Johan Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Adanan Begawan Pehin Siraja Khatib Dato Seri Setia Hj Mohd Yusof said the new screening will help identify babies who have hearing loss or deafness.

 

The screening would also allow health professionals to take measures at an earlier stage, preventing affected children from facing disadvantages in language development. “The service (initially) will commence at Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Hospital (RIPAS) and then be rolled out to other districts,” said the minister at the 10th National Perinatal Symposium at the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Dewan Al-‘Afiah.

The screening will aim to test every newborn’s hearing before they leave hospital, with nurses and midwives to be trained to perform the tests.

Brunei’s infant mortality rate in 2012 was 9.3 per 1,000 live births, with perinatal mortality – defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as the number of stillbirths and deaths in the first week of life – at 7.5 deaths per 1,000 total births.

The minister cited these positive numbers - compared to mortality rates of almost 100 in 1,000 in the country over 60 years ago - as a direct result of the provision of “accessible, equitable and affordable healthcare through universal health coverage emphasising primary healthcare”..

MoH also recently introduced a six in one vaccine for infants, replacing the existing oral polio vaccine with an injectable form. Under the National Immunisation Programme, 95 per cent of children under five are immunised.

Globally, an overall reduction in child mortality has been observed but reductions in perinatal and neonatal mortality have stagnated.

“The day of birth is the time of greatest risk of death and disability for babies and their mothers – contributing to around half of the world’s 289,000 maternal deaths,” the minister said.

He called on the ministry to utilise the Newborn Health Action Plan endorsed earlier in May and based on the latest research to mitigate stillborns and newborn deaths.

The sultanate’s Specialist Training Programme in Paediatrics has also received a boost as the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health from the United Kingdom has approved for Brunei to adopt its curriculum, YB Pehin Dato Hj Adanan said.

He also reiterated that the pub-lic take ownership of their own health by adopting a healthier lifestyle to combat challenges affecting maternity including obe-sity, diabetes and hypertension.

“The hospitals and health cen-tres are here to help treat and manage disease, but the emphasis must start to shift from looking at the healthcare system and medicines as the only solution.

“We have to strive to educate our community and change the mindset on how we need to better look after ourselves and our own health by adopting a healthy lifestyle throughout the course of our life.”

The Brunei Times