Sherif Qandil, a Palestinian father from Gaza, stood at the door of an operating theatre in the Al Quds Hospital, waiting for good news about his young daughter.
The 7-year-old girl was being operated on by a Qatari medical delegation, to have a cochlear device surgically implanted into her head. “Since her birth, Malak suffered severe sensorineural hearing loss,” said Qandil.
“All our attempts to help her to hear again were to no avail. Just when she was examined at Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital for Rehabilitation and Prostheses, it was found that she needed a surgery”.
He wished that his daughter would be able to hear, speak, and play with her friends. “I pray for her to start going to school, as she has the passion and high spirits,” he added.
Commenting on the sixth visit by the Qatari medical delegation to Gaza, Dr Abdul Salam Al Qahtani, Head of ENT and Cochlear Implants at Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC), and board member of Qatar Red Crescent Society (QRCS), stated, “This time, we are going to perform 25-30 cochlear implants. Consequently, the total number of children who benefited from the cochlear implant programme will have reached a total of 130 since its launch in 2016”.
He valued the contributions of all partners, particularly the physicians and nurses at the Palestinian Red Crescent Society’s (PRCS) Al Quds Hospital, as well as the Department of Audiology at Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani Hospital, for their efforts to select and prioritise the beneficiaries.
“Looking ahead, we are planning to rely totally on the Palestinian surgeons in Gaza to perform the cochlear implants. During the current mission, we are giving them a greater opportunity to take part in the operations, with guidance from the Qatari physicians,” Dr Al Qahtani revealed.
Dr Akram Nassar, Head of QRCS’s representation office in Gaza, noted that this visit is part of a whole QRCS supported programme that addresses a wide range of issues related to hearing disability.
“These include neonatal screening for hearing deficiencies at primary health care centers, providing hearing aids for any disability cases detected, and performing cochlear implants if required,” he explained.
The QR26m programme is aimed at enhancing programmed screening and intervention for hearing disability in Gaza, covering children with disability under various interventions at an early age, reaching out to as many cases as possible, minimizing the negative socioeconomic impact of belated screening, raising public awareness about hearing-related issues, improve special education accessibility, shaping a better future for persons with special needs, and facilitating their social and educational integration.