KOCHI: If all goes as planned, Newborn Hearing Screening and Remediation Programme, successfully implemented by the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Cochin, and Child Care Centre will be replicated in South East Asian countries. The collaborative agency of World Health Association (WHO) has asked the IAP officials to chart out a programme to make the it effective in South East Asian countries.
“The meeting held a few days ago had representatives from 11 countries of South East Asia participating. A doctor from All India Medical Science (AIMS), Delhi, also attended the meeting along with me. The IAP has been asked to chart out a suitable hearing programme,” said Dr Abraham K Paul, convener, Newborn Hearing Screening Programme.
Taking a cue from the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme in developed countries, where all newborns are discharged from hospitals only after screening for hearing deficit, the IAP Cochin launched the project in January 2003. So far, 92,000 newborns were screened and 138 newborns are confirmed to have hearing deficit and are under treatment with hearing aids. “Though Newborn Hearing screening is practised in some hospitals in India, this is perhaps the first project in India covering all newborns in a city,” Dr Abraham said. With eight machines, they covered 78 hospitals in the district.
“The rest of the 19 hospitals have their own machines. We have 97 hospitals in the district,” he said.
The district administration, National Rural Health Mission and State Health Department in collaboration with IAP, Cochin, has already initiated a project ‘Hearing Friendly Ernakulam District’. All the babies born in the 97 hospitals will be screened for hearing loss making Ernakulam the first ‘Hearing Friendly District’ in India.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Joint Committee on Infant Hearing stipulates that hearing loss in infants should be detected early and hearing aid should be fitted before an infant is six months old, which is practised in all developed countries.
Pursuing this goal, the IAP Cochin fixed a hearing aid for an infant as young as four months. This is the youngest infant to receive hearing aid through their programme.