Specialist doctors working at the Preah Ang Duong Hospital in Phnom Penh have successfully operated on nearly 40 deaf-mute patients and they can now hear and speak nearly as well as any average able-bodied person.
In light of these ongoing achievements, one of the hospital’s directors has urged all Cambodians to have greater faith in the quality of the medical treatments that are now available in the country.
Those who are deaf-mute are typically born with the condition, unable to speak or hear. The Preah Ang Duong Hospital is the first in Cambodia that can operate on deaf-mute patients and effectively cure them of their condition by almost fully restoring their hearing and speech.
They accomplish this miracle by utilising the latest in advanced medical technology – a machine from Austria that boasts a 100 per cent rate of success in curing those suffering from muteness and deafness. The first four deaf-mute patients in Cambodia were successfully operated on using this machine in 2018. The procedures were done free of charge.
Yos Sophoan, deputy head of the Ear, Nose and Throat Division of the Preah Ang Duong Hospital, told The Post on December 1 that the hospital had successfully operated on 37 deaf-mute patients since the programme began in 2018.
She said that having the surgery at the hospital cost significantly less than similar treatments available in Thailand or Vietnam while still achieving the same positive results.
“We treat deaf-mute patients at our hospital every day and this allows the parents of other deaf-mute children to see that our treatment is effective and it gives them the confidence they need to go forward with it here in Cambodia,” she said.
Sophoan added that beyond the surgery itself, the most effective treatment of patients who are born deaf-mute is highly dependent upon the individual patient and the various factors that may have contributed to their condition. When the patient is very young, the treatment’s overall effectiveness tends to be quite high, because they are then able to begin learning to speak in the same manner that other children do, rather than having to undergo the specialised training that is often necessary for deaf-mute people who are cured as adults and who have therefore never developed any language skills previously.
“After undergoing the surgery, children who have deaf-mute illnesses from birth can be taught how to speak faster than older people, because a child’s brain is very flexible and quick to adapt. In contrast, older people who have deaf-mute illnesses from birth take a long time to learn to speak a language because an adult’s brain no longer has the ability to be as flexible or to adapt as easily,” she said.
Lou Lykheang, the director of the Preah Ang Duong Hospital, told The Post on December 1 that in Cambodia the number of deaf-mute patients was very high given the size of the country and its total population.
According to a report by the NGO Krousar Thmey, there are approximately 50,000 deaf people in Cambodia. However, the number of people who have some difficulty related to hearing or speaking, including conditions that fall short of being completely mute or deaf, number around 500,000.
In the past, treating them was too costly and required many different approaches as there were a number of different things causing Cambodians to develop this condition. As a result, very few deaf-mute patients received effective treatment like surgery and instead had to make do with more basic assistance like speech therapy classes.
Lykheang said because the Preah Ang Duong Hospital was able to cooperate with South Korean partner hospitals, and with assistance from the South Korean government, the treatment of deaf-mute patients at the hospital was a far cheaper option than similar treatments in neighbouring countries.
The Preah Ang Duong Hospital also provides patients who are deaf-mute from birth and undergo surgery there to correct it with speech therapy and language training classes free of charge.
“The state-run Preah Ang Duong Hospital specialises in ear, throat, nose and eye care. We have already seen that the government has put a great deal of thought, effort, and resources into helping Cambodians who suffer from the deaf-mute disability. Going forward, we at the hospital will strive to further strengthen our techniques and hone our expertise in this area in order to make the best use of the resources and assistance the government has provided.
“In terms of specific achievements, this surgery being available here in Cambodia at a much lower cost compared to neighbouring countries – while maintaining a 100 per cent success rate – is a great victory for us and for the Cambodian people,” Lykheang said.