A UKM Success Story: 400 Cochlear Implants In 20 Years

Majlis Amal High teaBy Asmahanim Amir
Pix Mohd Hafizh Kasman, Photographer PPUKM

PUTRAJAYA, 25 May 2015 – The Cochlear Implant team of The National University of Malaysia (UKM) has successfully implanted the devices in 410 patients who suffer from hearing loss and speech in the last 20 years.

UKM Vice-Chancellor, Prof Dato’ Dr Noor Azlan Ghazali said from the total almost 84 percent of the patients were children.

“The patients also subscribed to audiology training and speech therapy to rehabilitate their hearing and speech,” he said when speaking at a High-Tea Charity Event in Conjunction with 20 years of the UKM Cochlear Implant Programme, here on May 23, 2015.

Cochlear implants help to replace the function of the damaged inner ear to process sound and send signals to the brain. It is different from a hearing aid that amplifies sound.

He said although not quite yet half of the age of UKM, the Cochlear Implant Team comprising academics and health professionals including specialists in Otorhinolaryngology, audiology, speech therapy and paediatrics have had a huge impact on individuals suffering from impaired hearing in the country and the region.

“The UKM Cochlear Implant team has done a good job in carrying out its responsibilities. It is a group of experts who not only inspires the country, but also cooperated and contributed to the international community and experts around the world,” he explained.

Prof Noor Azlan said he was proud because the efforts made by the founder of the Cochlear Implant Team, 20 years ago has grown with the participation of more and more clinical professionals in related fields.

“This collaboration of expertise is a great example how the knowledge and expertise from academia can give high impact to society.

“It is also the best example of how a wide range of clinical expertise and academic and professional fields of ear surgery, audiology, speech sciences and paediatrics can work together in a programme of treatment using the latest and most sophisticated medical technology,” he remarked.

He said to increase the collaboration between an academic hospital and professionals in medical and health science fields, UKM has developed teaching methods which use inter-professional learning in the curriculum at the Faculty of Medicine and Faculty of Pharmacy.

“This programme (inter-professional learning) should be encouraged so that we can produce health and medical professionals who can work in a strong team in order to enhance the quality of service to patients,” he said.

He hoped that the programme could continue to enhance efforts to increase the number of graduates and professionals in the field of Health Sciences to ensure the health and medical needs of the patients are met.

Meanwhile, Director of The Institute of Ear, Hearing and Speech (I-HEARS), Prof Dr Goh Bee See said the excellence of the UKM Cochlear Implant team has been recognised by various parties at the local level, Southeast Asia, Asia and the Middle East.

“The UKM Cochlear Implant team has helped the establishment of cochlear implant programmes in Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam, besides collaborating with the Ministry of Health to create the cochlear implant programme at the Ministry,” she explained.

She said on December 2014, the team through I-HEARS signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Borneo Medical Centre to help set up a cochlear implant programme in Sarawak.

The UKM Cochlear Implant Team was set up in 1994, by Prof Dato’ Dr Lokman Saim with Prof Dato’ Dr Abdullah Sani Mohamed from the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, Faculty of Medicine UKM in collaboration with Prof Dr Siti Zamratol Mai-Sarah Mukari and Prof Madya Dr Kartini Ahmad from Faculty of Health Sciences.

The team marked a major milestone by becoming a pioneer in performing cochlear implants in the region.