Hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit in humans today. As per WHO estimates in India, there are approximately 63 million people, who are suffering from significant auditory impairment; this places the estimated prevalence at 6.3% in Indian population. As per NSSO survey, currently there are 291 persons per one lakh population who are suffering from severe to profound hearing loss (NSSO, 2001). Of these, a large percentage is children between the ages of 0 to 14 years. With such a large number of hearing impaired young Indians, it amounts to a severe loss of productivity, both physical and economic. An even larger percentage of our population suffers from milder degrees of hearing loss and unilateral (one sided) hearing loss.

Objectives of the programme
1.To prevent avoidable hearing loss on account of disease or injury.
2.Early identification, diagnosis and treatment of ear problems responsible for hearing loss and deafness.
3.To medically rehabilitate persons of all age groups, suffering with deafness.
4.To strengthen the existing inter-sectoral linkages for continuity of the rehabilitation programme, for persons with deafness.
5.To develop institutional capacity for ear care services by providing support for equipment, material and training personnel.

Long term objective: To prevent and control major causes of hearing impairment and deafness, so as to reduce the total disease burden by 25% of the existing burden by the end of 12th Five Year Plan.

Components of the programme
1.Manpower training and development
2.Capacity building
3.Service provision
4.Awareness generation through IEC/BCC activities.

To strengthen the service delivery for ear care.
To develop human resource for ear care services.
To promote public awareness through appropriate and effective IEC strategies with special emphasis on prevention of deafness.
To develop institutional capacity of the district hospitals, community health centers and primary health centers selected under the Programme.

Expected benefits of the programme:  The Programme is expected to generate the following benefits :-
1.Availability of various services like prevention, early identification, treatment, referral, rehabilitation etc. for hearing impairment and deafness as the primary health center / community health centers / district hospitals largely cater to their need.
2.Decrease in the magnitude of hearing impaired persons.
3.Decrease in the severity/ extent of ear morbidity or hearing impairment.
4.Improved service network/referral system for the persons with ear morbidity/hearing impairment.
5.Awareness creation among the health workers/grassroot level workers through the primary health centre medical officers and district health officers, which will percolate to the lower level health workers functioning within the community.
6.Capacity building at the district hospitals to ensure better care.



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