Cochlear implants: Kids’ cries fall on deaf ears

No communication has reached hospitals that continue to enrol beneficiaries under the programme to provide free cochlear implants to children. DH file photo

Uncertainty looms over the continuation of the cochlear implant programme for children with hearing impairment in the state.

Even as several children continue to register under the programme, implants have not reached the government hospitals.

Karnataka had started giving free cochlear implants under the Shravanadosha Mukta Karnataka programme for children under the age of six years. However, doctors are now caught in confusion as they have stopped receiving fresh implants under the programme.

Ask officials in the department of health and family welfare and they confirm that the programme has been stopped. However, no communication has reached hospitals that continue to enrol beneficiaries under the programme.

The state was using funds from the Rashtriya Bal Swasthya Karyakram for the implants. However, top officials said that when the department sent a proposal for the next batch of implants, the indent was turned down by the National Health Mission, saying that there was a similar scheme offered by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and Karnataka’s scheme was a duplication of the same.

For instance, at least 30 children in KC General Hospital in Bengaluru have registered under the programme and are awaiting a transplant for four months now. Same is the situation at Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Bengaluru. These are the only two government hospitals conducting the procedure. 

“There is a need for the government to act immediately. As the age progresses, the impact the implants have on the child is very little,” said a doctor. 

Central scheme

Even as Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids and Appliances (ADIP/FAA), a scheme under the union government, provides implants, no government hospital in the state is empanelled to conduct procedures, leaving patients with no option, but to go to private hospitals, said an official in the health department.

Also, the state scheme had provided the implants for up to six years of age, while ADIP/FAA is only up to the age of five.

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