Pune: Maharashtra Health Minister Rajesh Tope, on Thursday, announced that an experimental project to check babies for hearing impairment would be begun in Pune. Gadchiroli and Jalna will also be a part of the project. ‘The mobile unit will visit a primary health centre and screen the newborns. Hearing tests can also be done during a child’s immunisation session,’ said Tope.
According to Dr. Bhagwan Pawar, the district health officer, basic healthcare centres will begin screening services shortly. ‘We do not have newborn screening for checking the hearing capacity of infants. Hence, the initiative will soon be introduced at primary healthcare centres,’ said Pawar.
Member of Parliament (MP) Supriya Sule devised the project, which was presented by Abhijit Raut, state organiser, Disability Rights Development Forum, Yashwantrao Chavan Pratishthan.
Dr Arti Kinikar, head of the paediatric department at Sassoon General Hospital (SGH), welcomed the decision. She said, ‘we at Sassoon General Hospital started a similar programme in 2017. It has helped in timely detection of hearing disability in a lot of children and provide treatment.’
The application of the Otoacoustic emissions (OAE) technique in infants was discussed in depth. The test evaluates the cochlea’s ability to generate sounds. The National Deafness Prevention Program is being implemented in 16 locations around the state, and orders have been provided to increase its scope and execute it throughout the state.
Approximately 92,000 persons in the state are hearing and language challenged, with 51% living in rural regions and 49 % in urban areas. Deafness can be prevented if the test is done at an early stage. Therefore, the programme should be planned according to the method of early diagnosis and treatment.