World Hearing Day

UNICEF donated 40 newborn hearing screening devices

02 March 2024
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UNICEF/Moldova/2024
World Hearing Day is marked annually on 3 March to raise awareness of the reasons for hearing loss and ways to prevent it. 

3 March 2024, Chisinau. Since this year, universal audiological screening has been introduced in Moldova, which could significantly improve the early identification of hearing impairment among newborns.  

Adhering to global initiatives to prevent hearing impairment from a very early age, UNICEF, with financial support from the Government of Japan, has donated 40 devices for newborn audiological screening, type EroScan, Maico Diagnostics GmbH, manufactured in Germany, to the medical system of the Republic of Moldova, including the necessary supplies such as 360 boxes of disposable earphones, probes and carrying cases. 

The equipment, worth about four million lei, was distributed by the Ministry of Health to Perinatal Centres across the country, and pediatricians and neonatologists were trained on how to use the equipment in the early diagnosis of hearing impairment in newborns.

"Before this donation, there were only four pieces of equipment across the country to test newborns and infant babies for any hearing impairments. This is not enough. With this donation, we have been privileged to work with the Ministry of Health and the Government of Japan to provide 40 additional units to Perinatal Units across the country and train 70 people to run these machines and know-how to read the results. When detected early, children with hearing impairments have a much better chance for language acquisition and speech therapy, allowing them to participate in their daily lives to their best potential".

 

Maha Damaj, UNICEF Country Representative in Moldova

Ala Nemerenco, Minister of Health of the Republic of Moldova: 

"Since the beginning of the year, every newborn baby receives a hearing check with audiological screening, which allows detecting ear pathologies and prevents all cases of deafness so that we can help these little children. It is very important that this investigation is free, accessible in every maternity hospital in the country, is performed with new, high-performance, modern equipment, and is absolutely harmless".

Yamada Yoichiro, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to the Republic of Moldova:

"I am so happy to contribute to audiological screening devices for newborn babies in Moldova. As in so many things, early identification is the key to better intervention, and the earlier the handicap is identified, the earlier the child can receive appropriate treatment, social services, and training in sign language. And here, sign language is getting a tremendous tailwind from artificial intelligence (AI). I understand that AI has enabled the translation between sign language and speech and text, for example. Our age is very promising for children with hearing, and I believe they will be able to prosper in the world today like never before. I wish them all the best!".

According to Anghelina Chiaburu, Head of the Audiology Centre, universal audiological screening of newborns started on 1 January 2024. Already, 1400 newborns have been screened, of which two children were confirmed to have sensorineural deafness based on a complex audiological examination. 

The Institute of Mother and Child will continue to provide a comprehensive audiological examination of all newborns identified with audiological problems, diagnosis, and treatment management, including specialized and qualified medical assistance, hearing prostheses, and medical and educational rehabilitation based on each child's needs. 

During the first semester of this year, the Institute of Mother and Child will also create a unique database of children with deafness. It will ensure the regular exchange of information between medical, educational, and social institutions. 

Audiological screening of newborn babies is essential in ensuring their healthy development. Early detection of hearing loss can significantly impact the quality of life of the child and their family, providing the opportunity for early intervention and treatment to begin at the earliest possible stage.  

Early identification of hearing impairment can prevent developmental delays and improve a child's future academic and social performance. Early initiation of appropriate interventions such as hearing therapy and the use of hearing devices or Cochlear implants can maximize a child's language and communication skills development at a crucial time in their growth. Furthermore, early identification and treatment can help prevent further developmental problems and reduce the negative impact on the child's quality of life and their family.    

According to statistics provided by the National Agency for Public Health, in the year 2022 in the Republic of Moldova, low hearing acuity accounts for about 2.4 per 1000 children aged 0-17 years screened. In 2–3-year-olds, the indicator is about 1.8 per 1000 children, with a significant increase for 6-7 year olds to 3.3 per 1000 children examined.

More than 5% of the world's population, or 430 million people, have hearing impairment, of which more than 34 million are children. Nearly 80% of people with hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries.

Media contacts

Valeria Dumitriu
Communication Officer
UNICEF Moldova
Tel: +373 68878436

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