Minister says a pilot project will be launched in some districts
MYSORE: Minister for Health and Family Welfare R. Ashok on Tuesday announced that the State Government would consider a proposal to appoint a speech and hearing specialist in every district general hospital.
Mr. Ashok was inaugurating the 40th anniversary celebrations of initiation of academic programmes by the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH).
He also inaugurated a special unit for Autism Spectrum Disorders at the AIISH premises.
He said: "The Government will consider establishing one unit to treat the speech and hearing disorders in each district general hospital. A pilot project will be launched in the district hospitals of Mandya, Hubli and Hassan."
He said the shortage of specialists hampered the treatment to those suffering from disabilities.
He said there were only 2,000 specialists in the country to treat 18 million people with hearing and speech impairment according to the National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) survey in 2002.
The Minister said in the next five years efforts would be made to address all issues concerned with various disorders because the State would be receiving World Bank aid of Rs. 897 crore.
Institute director Vijaylakshmi Basavaraj said the National Programme of Prevention and Control of Deafness had been launched and the institute had been made a nodal centre for implementing the programme.
She said the institute was participating in the pilot project launched in Mandya, Hassan and Hubli for prevention and control of speech and hearing impairment.
In the light of severe shortage of specialists to treat speech and hearing disorders, the institute was planning to start distance education courses.
Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) Vice-Chancellor S.C. Garg said that despite efforts to educate the differently abled children, only 4 per cent of them were covered.
The area of educating differently abled children had become a matter of concern as the latest census figures showed that 2.1 per cent of the population was suffering from one disability or the other.
Prof. Garg said: "Disabilities like dyslexia, autism and children with emotional disturbance have not been covered. If we include such disabilities, the number of the disabled comes to about 5 per cent of the population or around 50 million. At present, we are catering to only about one million children."
Mysore University Vice-Chancellor J. Shashidhar Prasad and MLC Thontadarya were present.