"It was a very difficult time for my family and my daughter," Egyptian star yosra El Lozy told audience on Sunday at the launch of a campaign aiming to raise awareness about the extent of hearing loss in children in Egypt and the importance of early detection.
El Lozy advocated for early intervention to treat hearing loss, as she spoke publicly for the first time on how she dealt with discovering one year ago that her young daughter suffered the ailment.
"Only through early medical intervention and reading extensively about the topic could we surpass this situation," she said.
The event was co-sponsored by Esma3ni (Hear Me) campaign and Waslet Kheir, with 140 women and media workers in attendance.
Through the day-long event, much discussion took place, hosted by prominent TV presenter Amina Shelbaya, tackling methods of detection and ways to communicate with children with hearing loss, in additional to the importance of psychological support.
"Any family can be in this situation and it is highly important to have patience and to be psychologically prepared in order to help your child in every possible way," El Lozy said.
Head of Egyptian NGO Waslet Kheir Mohammed Kabbani said that the NGO decided to partner with Esma3ni campaign when they came across the story of the plight of an Egyptian father called Ashraf Ibrahim.
Ibrahim witnessed the ordeal of his young boy suffering from hearing loss and decided in 2015 to launch the campaign when confronted with a lack of information and support.
Ibrahim started a web page that displays information and awareness raising data regarding detection of hearing loss in newborn babies. His endeavours were a huge success, with more than 500,000 following the effort on Facebook in a very short period.
Dr Mona El-Aqqad highlighted potential causes of hearing loss, including taking antibiotics during pregnancy and marriages between relatives.
El-Aqqad offered possible solutions, like inserting hearing aids or performing cochlear implant surgery, stressing that it is of utmost importance to detect hearing loss at a very early stage, between the ages of three to six months, and that it is best to perform cochlear implants before the age of five.
Dr Noha Nader, meanwhile, underlined early warning signs: crying in an extremely high pitch and unusual tone, and being unresponsive to the spoken voice.
Dr Amr Abbasi highlighted health tips to avoid the possibility of child hearing loss, including the importance of sharing relevant family history with gynecologists and adhering to instructions when it comes to taking supplements and vitamins during pregnancy.
One of segments that drew particular attention from the audience at the event was a discussion with mental health researcher Sara El-Shakankiry, who shed light on the importance of surrounding a child with hearing loss with warmth and interaction, thus positively impacting the emotional wellbeing of the child and reducing depression and stress.
El-Shakankiry stressed the importance of therapy for the wider family, as well as tackling ways to address stigmas and a possible lack of acceptance from others.
Towards the end of the event, Kabbani expressed hope that Esma3ni would receive support from all parts of society to build an integrated environment for hearing care in Egypt.
He underlined the importance of spreading awareness regarding early detection, treatment and prevention. He also pointed to the importance of donations to families who cannot afford cochlear implant treatment, at roughly EGP140,000 per patient.
Edited by Mostafa Ali