On the occasion of the World Hearing Day, celebrated on 3 March around the world, HRH Crown Princess Katherine wants to bring attention to the importance of preventive hearing examinations for newborn babies.
At the initiative of HRH Crown Princess Katherine, a Committee for the Examination of Newborn Hearing was established in order to make sure that neonatal hearing testing becomes mandatory in all maternity wards. It takes only a few minutes to do the test and our goal is to ensure that every newborn is examined before discharged.
The importance of this simple testing could not be more significant. Three out of every thousand kids will be born with hearing loss. If discovered within the first three years of life their hearing can be rehabilitated simply with a hearing aid or cochlear implant and these children will go on to have normal speech development without any disability. If hearing loss is not discovered within three years, the brain will not develop properly and these children will become deaf/mute leading to serious functional disabilities for the rest of their lives.
HRH Crown Princess Katherine’s Foundation in Belgrade together with Lifeline Humanitarian Organization, which has offices in Chicago, New York, Toronto, London and Athens and whose patron is HRH Crown Princess Katherine, has been helping people with hearing impairments with selfless donations for decades. Passionately dedicated to the cause, HRH Crown Princess Katherine collaborated with Dr. Daniel Djuraskovic Megler from Detroit, MI an otolaryngologist of Serbian origin, with 50+ years of medical experience and Mrs. Ardis Gardela, also an expert in the field to organize educational trips for hearing impaired children and their teachers to a special camp in Detroit, Michigan from 2015 through 2017. After a successful workshop and exchange of experiences in Michigan, a summer camp for children with hearing impairments was organized in Serbia in 2017, for the first time. Through several workshops, the children had the opportunity to participate in art and drama groups, to socialize and make new friends, as well as to visit the city’s sights.
In previous years, HRH Crown Princess Katherine has donated much-needed screening equipment for screening of hearing loss to hospitals in Serbia and Republika Srpska, interactive whiteboards for hearing-impaired children in Belgrade and much more. Although in 2020 the donations were mostly focused on the fight against coronavirus, HRH Crown Princess Katherine has not forgotten the importance of hearing tests and continues to advocate the introduction of mandatory hearing examinations for newborn babies, aiming to reduce the number of permanently deaf children in Serbia.
“It is extremely important to support deaf and hard of hearing people in society. Many talented people with hearing impairments have achieved incredible feats in various fields. A real example of that is one of the most famous composers, Ludwig Van Beethoven, who was completely deaf, then the famous writer and activist Helen Keller, as well as many others. Years ago, my Foundation and I appealed for the introduction of mandatory hearing examination of newborns, so that, if it turns out that a child has a hearing impairment, the healthcare system would have the opportunity to react adequately and quickly. For decades, we have nurtured cooperation with doctors from abroad and raised funds for hospitals and education of doctors in Serbia. As before, despite all the difficulties, this June we will gather a large number of doctors from the diaspora for the first time at the online Serbian Diaspora Medical Conference”, said HRH Crown Princess Katherine.