Progress in screening at Chennai Hospital, but treatment still a long way off

© GN Otometrics

The Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai, India, is considered to be one of the best medical institutions in Tamil Nadu state. Based on its statistics, 6 in 1,000 newborns at the hospital are born deaf. According to a report in The Hindu, the ENT department has been screening newborns for hearing loss for the past five months, but progress in this area has not been followed through to appropriate treatments.

The results of the screening and diagnosis program were presented as part of events organized to mark World Deaf Week. The ENT team has tested 550 infants since the hospital began its screening program in May, after investing in audiometer and automated auditory brainstem response equipment. Among the tested newborns, 26 were identified as congenitally deaf and six as having profound hearing loss. However, even if tests prove that a child is a candidate for a hearing aid or cochlear implant, funding is a major obstacle in providing suitable treatment to the affected children. The state government recently decided to fund cochlear implants under the health insurance scheme. Some 200 children have been registered as candidates for cochlear implants this year, but none have yet undergone surgery, the paper reports.

Another challenge is that the Rajiv Gandhi General Hospital is the only local medical institution authorized to perform the surgery. The Health Department therefore considers that it would be better if postgraduate ENT students in all government teaching hospitals with established teams could be trained to perform the operation.

Source: The Hindu