Punjab Launches Automated Auditory Brainstem Response system

Chandigarh: To manage the hearing loss in new born and young children, the Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab Government on Monday launched Automated Auditory Brainstem Response system (AABR) under Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Programme.

Giving details here today, the Health Minister Mr. Balbir Singh Sidhu said that Punjab Government is first state in country to introduce SOHUM (AABR) Automated Auditory Brainstem Response system. He said that this first of its kind initiative will effectively screen hearing loss in newborn and young children.

Underscoring the key features of this programme, Mr. Sidhu said that it coupled with high sensitivity and this technology will definitely revolutionize the old school screening system to cure the hearing loss in children. He said that after diagnosing the hearing disability in child, the state government also provides free of cost a cochlear implant which is a surgically implanted neuroprosthesis that provides a person with sensorineural hearing loss a modified sense of sound.

Referring the hearing loss is one of the major birth defects in children, the Health Minister further said that in a developing country like India 5-6 per thousand children are born with this defect. He said that screening of hearing loss in newborn and children has remained a challenge considering the traditional methods that were available in India till date.

Speaking on the occasion, NHM MD Mr. Kumar Rahul said Punjab has been leading all other states in effective screening for hearing loss and Health Department Punjab is all set to expand this programme up to grass root level by providing these indigenous machines to all 22 District Hospitals. He said that hearing impairment treatment services is already covered under the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram (RBSK).

Director Health Services, Dr. G.B. Singh said that health department is already treating infants and young children for congenital diseases like club foot, hearing impairment and cleft lips etc under RBSK, this breakthrough will eventually help in diagnosing hearing impairment at early stage and making intervention at the earliest.

The Nodal officer for National Programme for prevention and control of Deafness (NPPCD), Dr. Baljit Kaur further elaborated that with the use of these devices we can shift from traditional methods of screening to modern, tested and fool-proof method. She said that these devices will be available at 22 neo natal centers across Punjab, and screening will be carried out under the supervision of a Pediatrician.

Dr. Baljit Kaur further added that around 63 million people are suffering from hearing impairment and related diseases in India and this device will certainly help in effective assessment and further management of hearing loss in a timely manner.

Sharing his views on the occasion, Founder and CEO Soham Innovation Lab India Mr. Nitin Sisodia who invented this AABR system said that this programme aims to eradicate hearing loss among the children and this machine will certainly be proved boon for children with hearing disability.

Notably, as per NSS0 survey, currently there are 291 persons per one lakh population who are suffering from severe to profound hearing loss INSSO, 2001) Of these, a large percentage is children between the ages of 0 to 14 years. With such a large number of hearing impaired young Indians, it amounts to a severe loss of productivity, both physical and economic.

State Incharge MCH Dr. Inderdeep Kaur, State Incharge RBSK Dr. Sukhdeep Kaur and other senior officers of Health department were also present on the occasion.

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