The Provincial Department of Health is once again focussing its efforts on childhood development. This time, the department has teamed up with the Carel Du Toit Centre as well as the Children’s Hospital Trust, to launch a first of its kind project aimed at assisting children with speech-language and hearing problems at the Mitchells Plan Hospital.
According to the department’s research on the issue, speech-language and hearing problems are amongst the most common childhood disorders. Approximately 17 infants are born with or will develop hearing loss in South Africa each day, with 85% of these infants dependent on the public health sector for treatment.
MEC for Health, Theuns Botha explained that easy access to these types of service in hospitals was crucial to their development. While the pilot project is launched in the sub-district which consists of the larger part of Mitchells Plain, the department hopes to see it branch out to other parts of the province.
About 50% of new born infants in the province originate from the sub-district area. All the children in the sub-district will have their hearing and speech tested and if it is found that they have an impairment, they will be integrated into a system where they will get the right advice, treatment, support, surgery etc.
“We need to allocate more money and resources to that component of the community which have medical problems which are unforeseen and which they are not responsible for,” Botha added.
“The department has contributed largely towards improving the overall health and well being of our future generations.”
The project will also provide programmes aimed at the whole family where it will offer support, education and advice from ear nose and throat specialists.
This project will be rolled out to other parts of the province. The programme also seeks to educate communities on how to deal and care for a child with hearing or speech impairments.
Botha further added that when it comes to the department’s strategic objective of wellness, the aim is children.
“We direct most of our resources and dedication towards paediatric and child health specifically to ensure we have healthy adults in the new generation.” VOC (Ra’eesah Isaacs)