Must reach out to individuals with communication disorders in unserved areas: Harsh Vardhan

NEW DELHI: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Wednesday said efforts should be made to reach out to individuals with communication disorders in unserved areas of the country while those opposing loudspeakers beyond 10 pm are aware of its devastating effect on hearing health.

Vardhan was speaking after virtually inaugurating six new outreach service centres for communication disorders by the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), Mysuru on World Hearing Day.

The centres have been setup in Bihar, Odisha, and Karnataka.

“The number of individuals with such disorders and the lack of professionals and specialists to cater to their needs warrants for initiation of outreach service centres in hospitals across the country,” he was quoted as saying in a health ministry statement.

“We should aim to reach out to the undeserved and unserved areas in the country to cater to the needs of individuals with communication disorders. This will enable early identification and diagnosis of communication disorder and early intervention, thereby preventing further deficits in speech, language and cognition and facilitating the overall development of the child,” he said.

The Union minister said awareness must be spread about the dangers of continuous loud noise and the impact it can have on the ocular health of people.

Speaking on noise induced hearing loss, Vardhan said, “This is a sensitive issue and we should work on it. Those who oppose blaring noise and sounds beyond 10 pm are aware of the grave danger this persistent noise has on the ear health of everyone. Timely action is needed to prevent and address hearing loss across the life course,” Vardhan said.

“Newborn screening, school screening and sensitisation programmes for the general public about different communication disorders, need for early identification and intervention should be included as a part of the outreach activity to promote early identification and early intervention of communication disorders,” he was quoted as saying.

People are often unaware about the need for early screening and treatments available for communication disorder, he said.

Looking at the current data, there is an urgent need to prevent the occurrence of these communication disorders by taking appropriate measures through strategies like public education, early detection followed by early and continued intervention to restore effective functioning, the minister stressed.

Communication disorder not only affects the individual, but can have far-reaching effects on the entire family, he said.

Emphasising on the need for early identification and early intervention to control and manage communication disorders, the minister said, “Hearing impairment can lead to poor speech and language development in children. This can in turn affect their overall development of communication.”

“However, if these are identified early and early intervention is initiated, it will reduce the negative consequences of the disorder,” he said.