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October 11, 2005

Cochlear implant expert urges greater awareness

From: Business Standard - India - Oct 11, 2005

Our Bureau / Kolkata

Lack of awareness amongst parents as well as a section of doctors was preventing congenitally deaf newborn children from getting back their hearing and speaking ability, Mohan Kameswaran, president of the Cochlear Implant Group of India (CIGI), said.

"Cochlear implant, if done preferably between one and five years, in nearly 100 per cent cases restore hearing ability, and with proper post-operative auditory verbal therapy, most patients get back normal speech", he said.

He said parents of congenitally deaf children often brought them for treatment much after the preferred age group, owing mostly to ignorance, lack of awareness and wrong guidance from some doctors.

Only 1,000 cochlear implants had been done in the country in the last decade at over 20 centres. In Kolkata, the solution was offered at three centres - the Ramkrishna Mission Seva Pratishtan, Peerless Hospital & B K Roy Research Centre and Calcutta Medical College.

Just 10 implants had been done till now. Majority of the implants has been in southern India with nearly 400 implants done in Mumbai and Chennai alone.

Post-operative rehabilitation was a significant part of the whole treatment process.

Around one million children in the country now required cochlear implant that involves a cost around Rs 5.25-10 lakh.

To popularise and spread awareness about the treatment, CIGI prepared a consensus document and guidelines for medical institutions CIGI was lobbying with financial institutions like the State Bank of India, Andhra Bank and Vijaya Bank to offer special schemes for cochlear implant operation as the procedure was still not covered under medical insurance.

© 2005 Business Standard Ltd.