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19-year-old Chandrakala from Tumkur District’s Pavagada had struggled with hearing loss since birth. Since her family could not afford a hearing aid, Chandrakala’s communication issues snowballed over time, adversely impacting her education as well as her personal life. Through the financial impetus received by SBI Foundation, Dr. S. R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech and Hearing (Dr. SRCISH) scaled up their outreach and were able to visit her village. Chandrakala was evaluated and found to be fit for a hearing aid, using which she was able to hear clearly for the first time in years. However, using hearing aids is only half the battle won. Chandrakala, who still had difficulty communicating, further received tele-therapy sessions with Dr. SRCISH’s speech-language pathologist. In just seven sessions, she made significant strides; she could identify phrases without visual cues, communicate better, and returned to college a more secure, confident individual.
As illustrated through Chandrakala’s case, managing speech, language and hearing disorders is an elaborate, largely non-medical process, requiring complementary support for complete rehabilitation. Reportedly, nearly 60% of the cases of hearing impairment in children under 15 in India are preventable. Moreover, studies have shown that persons with disabilities are likely to be less educated, earn lower incomes or be unemployed. But the path to accessing treatment is strewn with barriers, like the failure to recognise deafness and the belief that deafness would resolve itself, and the lack of funds and transportation to reach medical centres, particularly in rural areas. Furthermore, while Karnataka has a few government and non-profit organisations in the sector, in Bangalore, there are no affordable government institutions, and most non-profits lack the requisite expertise and infrastructure to provide quality services. Research, however, indicates that early diagnosis is critical; it leads to better prognosis, and diagnostic accuracy is contingent on the use of sophisticated instruments.
Understanding these systemic challenges, SBI Foundation and 45-year-old non-profit institution, Dr. S. R. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech and Hearing (Dr. SRCISH), have framed an intervention in line with the government’s efforts to increase access to Cochlear Implants (CI), new-born hearing screenings, and better quality clinical services for lower income groups. The project has three components – giving the institute a state-of-art-facelift by procuring sophisticated equipment, sensitising grassroots workers like ASHAs, school management etc. to direct potential cases to the centre, and undertaking the capacity building of non-medical professionals. The Rs. 1.41 crore funding has been made jointly by SBI Foundation and SBI-SG Global Securities Services Pvt. Ltd. The project will be implemented by Bangalore Speech and Hearing Trust (BSHT) in coordination with SBI Foundation’s Centre of Excellence for PwDs over a 3-year period, from 2022 to 2024.
At an event held at Dr. SRCISH earlier this week, the upgraded Clinical Services of Dr. Chandrasekhar Institute of Speech & Hearing were inaugurated by Ms. Uma Shanmukhi, MD & CEO, SBI-SG Global Securities Services Pvt. Ltd., Mr. Nand Kishore, CGM, SBI, Bangalore Circle, and Mr. Sanjay Prakash, MD & CEO, SBI Foundation in the presence of senior officials from BSHT and eminent doctors from partner hospitals. Some of the newly procured instruments are unique in India. For instance, the Pupillometer, a Danish device used for eye tracking and listening effort evaluation, is the first-of-its-kind in India, exclusively available at Dr. SRCISH. The Stroboscope, another noteworthy addition to their assemblage, helps determine the functional capabilities of vocal tract, voice and swallowing. The VNG (Video VideoNystagmography), ABR (auditory brainstem response) and OAE (OtoAcoustic emissions) are not generally available in government or private institutions, as they are expensive and require regular maintenance. Another device, presently available only at AIISH, Mysore, is the Sound Level Meter, used to calibrate audiometers – the basic instrument in hearing testing. Dr. SRCISH is also supporting GOI’s infant screening program under NPPCD (National Program for Prevention of Deafness), which was faltering due to unavailability of these services at hospitals, PHCs and CRCs.
Senior officials from BSHT and SBI Foundation unveil the new stroboscope at Dr. SRCISH
This association has enabled Dr. SRCISH to amplify their outreach efforts and reach rural areas on the outskirts of Bangalore and Chittoor districts. The program connects with rural communities through school screening programs, adult health screening programs, and in-house screenings at Dr. SRCISH.
“While the project aimed to reach 4700 beneficiaries, through our intensive outreach efforts, we have reached over 14000 beneficiaries so far. This project is a testament to SBIF’s commitment to take quality healthcare to the remotest corners of the country,” adds Mr. Sanjay Prakash.
BSHT also screens individuals around their hometowns and invites them to the institute in Bangalore for a comprehensive diagnosis and treatment plan. For BPL individuals, the institute’s services are free of cost. Non-BPL individuals are also granted a 50% concession. “We are now targeting more rural geographies including Tumkur, Kolar and Hoskote. Our partnership with SBIF is catalysing that and helping us reach the unreachable,” states Mr. VV Krishna Reddy, Chairman, BSHT.
They have also partnered with hospitals like KC General Hospital, CV Raman hospital, Vani Vilas Hospital, Babu Jagjeevan Ram hospital and BBMP centres.
Patient’s vocal folds being assessed with the stroboscope
2558 people have been diagnosed with a range of speech and hearing conditions. While adults predominantly exhibited disorders like central vestibular issues, dizziness, impacted cerumen, hearing and balance disorders etc. children were mainly diagnosed with infant hearing loss and impairments, dyslexia, autism, mild to moderate hearing loss, hidden hearing loss, processing difficulties, reading disabilities, mis-articulation and stuttering. The families are now seeking early correctional measures.
Hearing loss can have profound effects not only on interpersonal communication but also on health, independence, well-being, and quality of life, but it is preventable, provided it is detected early and managed properly through appropriate health education and intensive personalised care.
About SBI Foundation
SBI Foundation is the CSR arm of the State Bank Group. True to its tradition of “Service Beyond Banking”, the Foundation recognises the importance of engaging with communities across key focus areas such as empowerment of PwDs, rural development, healthcare, education, sustainability & environment, livelihood & skill development, youth empowerment, promotion of sports, and more. In this pursuit, SBI Foundation works across 28 States and Union Territories of India, undertaking several initiatives to make resources available to the most vulnerable sections of the society, directly and through strategic partnerships with impact-making entities in the social sector in the most transparent way to create inclusive, sustainable development. SBI Foundation believes in reflecting the ethos of the State Bank Group in running interventions that are ethical, promote growth and equality, and create a positive impact on society.
For more information on SBI Foundation’s pan-India developmental projects, write to email@example.com