Over one lakh babies screened in Kerala under Newborn Hearing Screening Programme
The Newborn Hearing Screening Programme was launched 15 years ago in Kerala. It has been called a path breaking health initiative by many international health organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO).
Under the programme, over 1.5 lakh infants in Kerala have been screened so far. Of these, hearing defects were detected in 317 kids.
Experts from the programme say that if hearing loss is detected at birth and treated, most kids are able to develop near normal speech and language skills with the help of hearing aids alone. This means that expensive surgeries and learning disability can be avoided.
When the programme started, only two hospitals were associated with it. There was just one screening equipment available, with just one trained person to conduct the test.
Six months after the launch, the first case of possible hearing loss was detected which gave the programme a boost. Soon, it was launched in 32 hospitals in Kochi. It was soon implemented across Ernakulum district, and now 78 of the total 91 hospitals in the district are associated with the project.
The Ernakulam district model is being looked at to be implemented in other parts of India and South East Asia.