All primary health centres (PHC) in the State will soon be provided with equipment for early detection of deafness and the taluk and district level government hospitals will have trained ENT doctors to perform surgeries.
As hearing impairment is next only to depression in the maximum number of persons living with disability, the Central government launched the National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD) in 25 districts in the country, including three in the State on a pilot basis. Under the programme, all PHCs in the selected districts are provided with equipment for detection of deafness at the PHC and the district level hospitals. The paramedical workers, school teachers, PHC doctors, district level paediatricians, obstetrics and gynaecology specialists and ENT surgeons are sensitised about the programme by creating awareness or refreshing their knowledge about hearing disorders, its early detection and prevention and treatment provision.
As the State had completed the pilot project successfully, the programme had been expanded to 19 more districts. The remaining 10 have been included currently to sensitisation, capacity building and service provision.
In this connection a five-day skill training programme for about 40 ENT surgeons in Villupuram, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts began at Madras Medical College here from Thursday.
Inaugurating temporal bone lab as part of the programme, V.K.Subburaj, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Planning Department, said as per the WHO estimates approximately 63 million people were suffering from significant hearing loss.
Of this 50 per cent of the cases were preventable and another 25 per cent could be treatable by surgical methods while the remaining patients could be rehabilitated with the use of hearing aids, speech and hearing therapy. Admitting that there was dearth of audiologists in the State, especially in district and taluk hospitals, he said the TNPSC was asked to recruit them at the earliest.
Girija Vaidhyanathan, Mission Director, NPPCD, inaugurating the State Nodal centre for the programme, said the prime focus of the programme was systematic evaluation of early detection of deafness.
Other objectives were to empower officials at PHC to handle early cases of deafness, and empower doctors at the district headquarters for providing ENT services effectively.
As hearing impairment was more prevalent in rural areas, school teachers and anganwadi workers were being given training to detect deafness among children.
C.Jacinth, State nodal officer of the programme, spoke.