With six out of every 1,000 children being born with profound deafness in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, their number was three times the national average and six times the global average, an international conference on cochlear implants was told here on Wednesday.
Two to three children with profound deafness were born to parents married into cousins or who married consanguineously.
Inaugurating the 9 Asia Pacific Symposium on Cochlear Implants and Related Sciences here, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan said a multitude of factors were responsible for congenital hearing loss in India and nearly three million children were suffering from profound deafness.
“Even though more than 20,000 cochlear implantations were thus far done across India, we still face an uphill task with potentially one million children awaiting implantation, for many of whom cost of implant is a deterrent,” she observed.
Pointing out that States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala have taken the initiative for totally funding cochlear implants through their Chief Minister’s Comprehensive Health Insurance Schemes, she called for a holistic effort by the government, medical fraternity and the society to bring a remarkable transition in the lives of deaf children, bring them out of gloomy world of silence on to the vibrant world of sound.
“Such an effort can be fulfilled only when this technology propagates further to all rural centres across the country,” she added.
Mohan Kumareswaran, organising president of the symposium, said the Cochlear Implant Group of India (CIGI) was playing a catalytic role in creating greater awareness about new technologies. He said that more than 800 delegates, including from 40 countries, were participating in the four-day symposium which concludes on November 29.
Sangeeta Reddy, Executive Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said that 25,000 children were born each year in the country with congenital hearing loss and urged experts to bear upon manufacturers to bring down the cost of cochlear implants.