Anith Adilah Othman on a project which gives hope to hearing-impaired Cambodians.
The camaraderie between Cambodia and Malaysia continues to propel, especially in the field of medicine where teams from both countries actively engage in knowledge and technological transfers.
Last Saturday, the partnership was further solidified with the launch of Cambodia’s first-ever Hearing Care Center at Borey Sopheak Mongkul. The center, an initiative of an ear, nose and throat (ENT) expert Professor Dato’ Dr. Lokman Saim from Malaysia, is aimed at providing the necessary support for the Cambodian medical team in dealing with hearing-impaired patients.
“Let it be clear that we are not opening an ENT clinic in Cambodia. That is not the main operative. We just wish to provide some support for doctors in Cambodia, especially involving patients that need cochlear implants.“We realise that the Kingdom lacks trained audiologists to perform hearing tests and we happen to have all the equipments, for both adult and child patients. We will help with the tests and send the results to hospitals where they can proceed with the necessary procedures,” he told Good Times2 during the center’s grand opening.
Among the services offered at the center include ear check-up, hearing screening, consultations, audiometry, tympanometry and rehabilitation programmes. The highlight, however, is a cutting-edge device dubbed the cochlear implant.
“We offer a variety of services. After getting a cochlear implant, for instance, patients can come to our center where our audiologist can help with the mechanical works and mapping process, where we make adjustments so the patients can hear at an optimum level,” he said.
Dr. Lokman explained that a cochlear implant is not the same as a hearing aid. The former performs the functions of the damaged inner ear by providing sound signals to the brain, while the latter merely enhances surrounding sounds.
“The advantage of cochlear implant is that it provides hope for those with total or profound hearing loss. They do not have to resort to sign languages as the main tool of communication anymore,” he said.
The renowned specialist said he also wished to train the local medical team to familiarise themselves with the field of audiology, particularly in conducting hearing tests, so that they would be completely independent in the future.
“Until then, if Cambodia needs our help, I am more than happy to assist with the development of technology and surgical skills in Phnom Penh. I have had vast experience in training across the region, so I would be glad to share some knowledge here,” he added.
Meanwhile, Health Ministry Under Secretary of State Dr Sann Sab Ey, who also graced the event alongside his colleague Dr Peas Muslim, expressed his utmost gratitude and support for the newly-launched center.
“I have known Dr. Lokman for a long time. Thank you for bringing such technology to Cambodia. I sincerely hope this effort will truly benefit Cambodians in the future. This brings more hope to us, especially parents of children with hearing impairment.
“I also hope Cambodian medical team will make full use of this knowledge transfer so we can follow Malaysia’s footsteps in the field,” he said in his keynote speech.
One the people who has had first-hand experience involving cochlear implant is 60-year-old Khai Suor from Kampong Cham. The retiree, who now enjoys gardening, has had a successful procedure in Kuala Lumpur just less than five years ago.
Suor, who relayed his experience at the event, said he was born with perfect hearing but lost the ability in his 50s after a severe bout of meningitis. He then travelled across the region for months, in search of cure until he met Dr. Lokman and was introduced to the cochlear implant as an alternative.
“When I lost my hearing, I could not hear at all. My world suddenly turned dark. My family would have to write things out in order to communicate. It was a really tough time in my life.
“Now, thanks to the implant, I can hear again. Of course it is a little difficult to hear in certain settings where multiple noises are present because it is still a man-made cochlear. But in a quiet environment, like at home, I can hear and talk to my children and grandchildren which is all that matters,” he said, grinning throughout the conversation.
The ceremony on Saturday was officiated by Malaysian Embassy charge d’affaires Ruzaimi Mohamad, witnessed by other Cambodian Health Ministry senior officers and the center’s board of directors.
Ruzaimi said the Embassy is delighted with the presence of representatives from the Royal Government of Cambodia, which demonstrated a strong support for this effort from Malaysia.
“The center, the first of its kind in Cambodia, will become a very precious contribution from Malaysia. The Embassy is very proud that this center is finally established as it would be able to help a lot of unfortunate people.
“The efforts to set up this center would have a big impact, not only to the patients but also the relations between the government of Malaysia and Cambodia. We are now ready to serve the people of Cambodia,” he said.
In conjunction with its opening, the center now offers free hearing screening and free ear check-up. Hearing aids are also discounted up to 30 per cent, while stocks last. For further inquiry, please contact +855 1254 6707.