Govt missed target of conducting 500 free cochlear implant surgeries, says report
New Delhi: The government has failed to meet the target of conducting 500 free cochlear implant surgeries under a national scheme for poor hearing-disabled children.
The Assistance to Disabled Persons for Purchase/Fitting of Aids/Appliances (ADIP) Scheme under the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment aims to treat hearing disability in poor children provides Cochlear implant for 500 children per year with hearing disability, with a ceiling of Rs 6 lakh per unit.
The Standing Committee on Social Justice and Empowerment (2017-18) in its report released last week observed that the scheme has not met its target in the past three years. “In the last three years i.e. from 03.12.2014 to 30.11.2017, only 975 Cochlear Implant Surgeries have been conducted across the country, which is far less than the target of 500 Implant Surgeries per year,” the parliamentary panel in its report said.
“The Department needs to explain this shortfall. The target of 500 implant surgeries is very less for the entire country which unfortunately is also not met. As a result, waiting list of such patients keeps increasing,” the report said.
A cochlear implant is a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing in both ears and provides life-long relief. Under the scheme, all costs are borne by the Government to cover the cost of implant, surgery and post-operative rehabilitation.
The Committee has in fact recommended increasing the target of 500 Implant Surgeries per year to at least to 700 besides ensuring that this target is achieved without any excuse whatsoever. According to the provisions of the ADIP Scheme, the income ceiling for the beneficiaries is Rs 15,000 per month for 100% concession and Rs. 15001 to Rs. 20,000 per month for 50% concession.
The parliamentary panel has pulled up the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities saying that the cochlear implant surgeries are “unaffordable” for even those with eligibility of 50% concession and asked the department of department to revisit the criteria.
“The Committee feels that for a person with an annual income of Rs 1.8 lakh to Rs. 2.4 lakh bearing 50% cost of the surgery is almost impossible. As majority of the patients are in need of Cochlear Implant under ADIP Scheme come from economically weaker sections of the society, the Committee desire that the income criteria must be revised or relaxed so that benefit could be extended to more and more patients,” the panel’s report said.
The Committee also recommended that the department formulate detailed guidelines to ensure post surgery follow-up and functioning of the implant, speedy repair of device in case of a fault -- technical or otherwise -- hospitals and clinics registered for conducting the implant surgery have well-trained doctors and staff and early detection of hearing disability.
In India, four in every 1000 children suffer from severe to profound hearing loss, with over 100,000 babies born with hearing deficiency every year. The estimated prevalence of adult-onset deafness in India is 7.6% and childhood onset deafness 2%, according to Union Health Ministry . Hearing disability is the second most common cause of disability in India.