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Times of India
14 July 2010
Chennai, India

The state health department will sanction Rs 1.5 crore for implants that would help children with profound deafness to hear and speak. The Government General Hospital (GH) will use part of these funds to do cochlear implants on at least 50 children, health minister MRK Panneerselvam said here on Monday.

Giving away free hearing aids, which the GH department of ENT had purchased with funds it raised from sponsors, the minister said a cochlear implant surgery in a government hospital costs Rs 5 lakh as against Rs 9 lakh in a private hospital. The GH had already done the country‚Äôs first cochlear implant in the public sector with support from Star Health Insurance on an eight–year–old girl recently. She will continue with the speech therapy sessions for at least six months.

“I am told that the girl is now speaking a few words. She needs support from a speech therapist. To sustain a programme like this we need support staff. For this, we will start a BSc course in speech and audiology from this academic year,” he said. The course will be taught at the Madras Medical College to which the hospital is attached.

According to the scheme, Star Health will continue to support insurance holders –one crore families who have been given the Kalaignar health insurance cards –with Rs 2 lakh for the implants. The remaining Rs 3 lakh will be drawn out of special funds from the health department.

“This will help us carry out transplant on at least 50 children. Meanwhile, we are looking at fund–raising for more such surgeries,” said GH cochlear implant surgeon Dr K Balakumar.

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