March 2019 Hindustan Times

According to doctors , hearing impairment is the second most common cause of disability in the country, with an estimated 63 million people suffer from hearing loss.

Anisha Mantri

Anisha Mantri was fitted with a hearing implant at a young age after her parents realised her deficiency

Nine-year-old Anisha Mantri was born deaf and mute. At the age of four she was fitted with a cochlear implant and on the eve of World Hearing Day, she won the first prize in storytelling and slogan singing competitions at her school. Ever since Anisha was fitted with the hearing device, she could interact with other children of her age without any difficulty, said Anuradha Maheshwari, her mother. A class 3 student at a private school in Jaipur, Anisha’s parents came to know about her deficiency when she was two years old. “We were in Ajmer and there was no facility to treat it there so we shifted to Jaipur,” said Maheshwari, who is a teacher in a private school. Her hearing device was fitted free of cost under a cochlear implant programme started in SMS hospital, Jaipur, in 2010.

A year later the state government too pitched in with support from the chief minister’s relief fund.

The facility of implants is currently offered free of cost in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Udaipur and Kota medical college hospitals. A total of 615 implants have been fitted across the state in both children and adults . Around 100,000 babies born are born with hearing deficiency every year and one in every 1,000 children who suffer severe to profound hearing loss require an implant. The implants (both internal as well as external) costs anywhere between Rs 8 and Rs10 lakh in private hospitals, while the cost is half in most government hospitals.

“I am thankful to my parents and doctors who introduced me to the world of sound and music,” said Anisha. “Many children need the implant. The government should help them, too,” said Anisha.

Dr Mohnish Grover, ENT expert at SMS hospital, who treated Anisha, said, “There is an immediate need for newborn screening to diagnose hearing impairment. This will help them to fit the device at a much younger age allowing them to grow up like other functional children.” At present, deafness in children is diagnosed at the age of 3-5 years.” Dr Grover said the internal implant can last up to 20 years, but external devices and accessories, which cost between Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 require service or replacement.

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