Tue, 20 Apr 2021

New Delhi [India], March 3 (ANI): Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said that National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness (NPPCD) will target over 6 percent of India's population with disabling hearing loss.

The Union Health Minister, who is also the Chairman of Executive Board of World Health Organisation (WHO), released WHO's world report on hearing on the World Hearing Day.

To underscore the importance of ear health, Vardhan referred to a 2018 WHO report which observed that 2 percent of India's population, mainly children, suffer from the condition of Otitis Media, a group of inflammatory diseases of the middle ear.

He highlighted other problems like hearing loss due to high noise levels at workplaces and on the roads, hearing loss due to the use of ototoxic medicines and chemicals, the dangers of loud music and unsafe listening to people's hearing health (with over 750 million smart phone users in India).

"A multi - centric cross-sectional survey conducted as per the WHO recommended Probability Proportional to Size (PPS) sampling technique assessed 92,097 people in the community across 6 sites in India. Age-appropriate audiological testing as per WHO norms including pure tone audiometry, tympanometry, oto-acoustic emissions, behavioral observation audiometry and ENT examination were all undertaken onsite in a specially designed sound treated audiological bus," the minister said.

The results have showed a changing profile of hearing loss in India's population and in tune with similar changes in other countries as they move forward in economic development. The study also showed that the disabling hearing loss affected 2.9 percent of the population and was noted to effect communication, education and work.

The rural population had a far greater prevalence of hearing loss. The prevalence of total hearing loss, unilateral and bilateral was found to be as high as 9.93 per cent. The geriatric population accounted for 40.5 per cent of all hearing loss and 72.4 per cent of all disabling hearing loss.

The study also made a major contribution in identifying the risk factors associated with Sensory Neural Hearing Loss (SNHL): Smokeless Tobacco consumption, Heavy smoking, Leisure and work-related noise, and also excessive Residential Noise, are all noted as risk factors associated with SNHL.

Vardhan showcased India's National Programme for Prevention and Control of Deafness to the audience that targets 6 percent of the population who have disabling hearing loss and require interventions.

More than 30 thousand free-of-cost ENT surgeries and around 24 thousand hearing aids were provided under the program in the year 2019-20.

He stated, "With an annual implementation budget of 35 Crore (5 Million USD), funded fully by the Government of India, the national programme for prevention and control of deafness now covers 595 districts in the country, reaching nearly 80% of the country's population and is growing every year."Director-General of WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director of Department of Non communicable Diseases in WHO Bente Mikkelsen, Lead Officer of WHO programme for ear and hearing care Dr Shelly Chadha and other senior officials of WHO attended the event. (ANI)

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