The State is likely to adopt the Kochi model for identifying infants with hearing problems and take corrective methods.
The Union Health Ministry will be providing funds through the Rastriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram, a child health project, to follow Kochi’s newborn hearing screening programme.
Health Minister V.S. Sivakumar will be consulting the programme coordinators of Swaram, a joint venture managed by the Child Care Centre here, run by the Indian Academy of Paediatrics in association with Ernakulam District Council for Child Welfare.
The newborn screening programme, which started here in 2003, has so far screened 62,000 babies in 34 hospitals in Ernakulam and nearby districts of Thrissur and Kottayam. After the screening, 92 babies were identified to be suffering from hearing loss. They are being remediated through hearing aids and auditory verbal therapy.
The significance of this programme is that most of the babies being remediated may not require the expensive cochlear implant surgery costing around Rs.5 lakhs, said Abraham Paul, national convenor, Newborn Hearing Screening Programme, Indian Academy of Pediatrics, and the executive director of Child Care Centre.
Dr. Paul said hospitals in the district were using the services of four screening machines.
He said the programme gained national attention and other IAP centres were also trying to replicate the programme in various other cities elsewhere in the country. IAP has started the programme in Kollam and Pune. In Kolkata, the programme is to start soon. The government has a couple of machines but they are yet to be put to use.
If the State takes up the programme, all babies born in the State can be screened according to international guidelines, Dr. Paul said.