Determining Ear & Hearing Care Pathways for DeafKidz in Pakistan!Deafkidz International has been working with its local partner in Gujrat, the Decent Welfare Society, to trial a new pathway of care that sees immunisation workers conduct behavourial new-born hearing checks. This is aimed at identifying Deafness at the earliest opportunity so that an appropriate response can be determined for the new-born in question – this usually involving onward referral for detailed audiological assessment. The hearing check is very simple and can be conducted by any healthcare professional – using a rattle to see if the child responds to noise.
There are few consistent strategies for newborn, infant or child hearing screening so this trial makes use of an existing healthcare capacity – immunisation workers. As they are already engaging with new-borns, neonates and their parents, the hearing check test is added to their clinical task sheet. In addition, specific training is given in communicating with parents so that they can appraise and reassure parents of the next steps should Deafness be suspected. This in turn ensures early intervention and generates a health-economic return; with early detection meaning the better use of often limited and scarce resources.
The trial is centred at the Decent Welfare Society’s Bashir Hospital in Gujrat and once evaluated, it will be rolled out to other districts in Punjab. This sees DeafKidz International working to progress a locally led and driven screening programme, that supports the development of robust and sustainable public health ear and hearing care capacities. “We’re going to prove our case in Gurjat and get to a point where we have a national new-born hearing screening programme in Pakistan” said DeafKidz International’s Steve Crump. “There are many challenges to overcome, but with first class partners such as the Decent Welfare Society, we can achieve great things and really make a difference. We’ll leave no D/deaf new-born behind in Pakistan”.