Over 900 babies diagnosed with hearing issues in 2023

RM130 million allocated to boost disease prevention, including newborn hearing screening.

25 May 2024 11:00am
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF
Photo for illustration purposes only. - 123RF

CYBERJAYA - A total of 987 out of 253,822 infants screened under the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) programme in the country in 2023 were diagnosed with hearing problems, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

He said that the Ministry of Health (MOH) places great importance on the early detection of hearing problems and that the UNHS programme, which involves hearing screening for newborns, has been a key performance indicator (KPI) for the Health Minister's first 100 days since 2023.

"Alhamdulillah, thanks to the dedication and cooperation of all parties, from December 13, 2023, to March 21, 2024, a total of 68,823 newborns, or 138 percent of the KPI target, have successfully undergone hearing screening before reaching 29 days old,” he said.

Dr Dzulkefly said that through the 2024 Budget, RM130 million has been allocated to enhance disease prevention activities to ensure the well-being of Malaysia MADANI families remains intact.

"This allocation also includes the newborn hearing screening programme, which will be used to increase the coverage of infant screenings, allowing babies and children with hearing problems to be detected early.

"This is so they can achieve their maximum potential and subsequently contribute back to development,” he said.

He added that the MOH, as the Secretariat for the Medical Assistance Fund, will consider applications from Malaysian citizens, including government retirees or family members of civil servants, for the acquisition of hearing aids or cochlear implant surgeries to address the problem.

He said that the number of cochlear implants performed under the MOH Cochlear Implant Programme from 2019 to 2023 involved 272 units, costing approximately RM21 million.

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"This effort provides children with hearing problems the opportunity to hear better and further empowers this group, especially in their learning,” he said.

Dr Dzulkefly also urged everyone to break the stereotypes and stigma that exist in society towards individuals using hearing aids. - BERNAMA