Dubai, 27 July 2015 – Al Jalila Foundation, the global philanthropic organisation dedicated to transforming lives through medical education and research, has today announced a new programme, Ana Asma’a (‘I hear’ in Arabic). Ana Asma’a is part of A’awen, Al Jalila Foundation’s treatment support programme, which will provide children in the UAE who suffer severe hearing loss with cutting-edge cochlear implants to restore hearing.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hearing impairment affects 360 million people globally (or 5% of the world’s population) and 32 million children under the age of 15. In the Middle East, hearing loss is one of the region’s top five health problems, estimated to affect 1 in 25 people. The condition mostly affects children from birth; other cases are a result of infections, injury or even from excessive noise. Studies show that loss of hearing has devastating consequences for interpersonal communication, psychosocial well-being, quality of life and economic independence; and early intervention is integral for the best chance of recovery.
The cochlear implant technology helps restore hearing using an electronic medical device implant that does the work of damaged parts of the inner ear (cochlea) to provide sound signals to the brain. The procedure is highly effective with young children as the early stages of brain development maximise the child’s ability to develop speech, language and listening skills, ultimately providing a greater chance of a normal life.
Dr Abdulkareem Al Olama, CEO of Al Jalila Foundation, commented: “Research has made such life-changing medical procedures possible. Today, cochlear implants can restore hearing and offer recipients an improved quality of life. We work with renowned healthcare partners to provide cutting-edge technologies to address hearing impairments in addition to post-operative medical care which includes rehabilitation and speech therapy.”
He added: “Through Ana Asma’a we are helping parents give their children the opportunity to undergo the latest medical procedures offering them renewed hope for their child’s future. We consider it an enormous privilege to be able to give children in the UAE the gift of hearing.”
A’awen (‘support’ in Arabic), Al Jalila Foundation’s medical support programme, complements the Foundation’s investments in medical education and research. Through A’awen, Al Jalila Foundation works directly with healthcare partners in the UAE to offer financial aid to UAE-based patients without access to quality healthcare. So far Al Jalila Foundation has invested almost AED 5 million to provide specialised treatments to over 60 patients including hearing aids, chemotherapy for various types of cancer, cochlear implants, knee replacements, prosthetics, cardiovascular treatment (heart failure), dialysis treatment (kidney failure), and ophthalmology/cornea transplants among others.
Ana Asma’a has already transformed lives by providing children with the fundamental ability to hear, and enabling them to live independent and happy lives. In 2014, Al Jalila Foundation sponsored the treatment of a two year old girl, Hanah Sarmiento, who underwent a bilateral cochlear implant at hearLIFE Clinic, one of Al Jalila Foundation’s healthcare partners.
Hanah’s parents, Alvin and Analyn Sarmiento, have said the intervention of Al Jalila Foundation has given their daughter a brighter future, and said Hanah’s recovery is a “miracle”.
Applications for Ana Asma’a can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org and are assessed on a case-by-case basis.