We recently purchased 54 necessary devices for almost PLN 4 million. Thanks to them, all newborns and all children born in Poland will have their hearing tested, said Jerzy Owsiak, president of the WOŚP Foundation, in Poznań, referring to the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program implemented by the Orchestra. – We want to complement this program so that it is one hundred percent effective – he said.
The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Program has been implemented for over 20 years. Thanks to it, over 7.5 million children have been examined. Hearing tests are obligatory in Poland and cover approximately 96%. all newborns. The program is implemented by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation, with medical support from the Otolaryngology and Laryngological Oncology Clinic of the Medical University of Poznań.
As stated by the president of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation Jerzy Owsiak at Friday’s press conference in Poznań, the program started “a little timidly, and then it went like a storm.”
– We want to complete this program so that it is one hundred percent effective. Currently, our statistics say that 96 percent of children born in Poland have all hearing tests. The remaining 4 percent is neonatal intensive care. Professor Jarosław Szydłowski, the medical coordinator of the program, convinced us: why not do such tests also in neonatal intensive care? We recently purchased 54 necessary devices for almost PLN 4 million. Thanks to them, all newborns and all children born in Poland will have such hearing tests, he said.
Szydłowski: this program is constantly developing
8.9% of the irregularities detected under the program require further diagnosis. tested children. Hearing problems were diagnosed in approximately 17.7 thousand people. kids. As part of the program, 300,000 people have their hearing tested every year. kids. As emphasized at the conference, the universal newborn hearing screening program is the largest screening program implemented in Poland.
– We have various diagnostic possibilities and we are trying to expand them. This program is constantly developing, its evolution is related to technical progress, the introduction of newer, more accessible and patient-friendly diagnostic techniques – said Jarosław Szydłowski, Ph.D., medical coordinator of the program.
Szydłowski said that new methods, tools and techniques implemented as part of the program allow for even more precise and complete verification of hearing in newborns.
– We will probably use genetic screening in the near future. It will initially include a pilot program in one voivodeship. We also want to improve and streamline communication between parents of children suffering from hearing disorders and centers dealing with diagnostics, rehabilitation and therapy of the hearing system, he said.
A comprehensive program including hearing screening, but also diagnostic activities and intervention: cochlear implantation, hearing aids and rehabilitation is carried out in a total of 471 centers throughout the country. By the end of October, 5 million 509 thousand were registered in the central database of the program. kids.
As reported during the press conference, before the program began, the average age of child implantation was over 4 years. Currently it is approximately 12 months.
Owsiak: the program works every day – also on holidays and at night
Ph.D. Jarosław Szydłowski emphasized the importance of quickly taking appropriate action in the case of children with diagnosed hearing problems. The earlier rehabilitation begins, the easier it is to achieve good treatment effects.
– In the case of patients suffering from multiple diseases, hearing impairment is often treated as another problem in a row. Even if a child leaving the neonatal intensive care unit does not respond to sounds or has hearing loss, parents treat it as a minor problem. Meanwhile, postponing diagnosis and therapy will have irreversible consequences. Very often, when a hearing-impaired child comes to us, has already been operated on by heart surgeons, pediatric surgeons, laryngologists, but is four or five years old, we can give the child a sense of sound. This child will never develop speech. In terms of communication, he will remain in a world cut off from sounds, he said.
Jerzy Owsiak announced that so far PLN 71 million has been spent on the implementation of the program.
– This is our flagship program. He works every day – also on holidays and at night. Previously, only children from the risk group were tested, but statistics show that the problem concerns not only them. We decided to launch this program, we started with a pilot program in two voivodeships, but it went so well that we quickly introduced it throughout Poland. Today we are very, very proud of this program. We want to continue doing this, he said.
Jerzy Owsiak also reminded that the theme of the upcoming 32nd final of the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity will be “Lungs after the pandemic”. The final scheduled for January 28, 2024 will be organized at PGE Narodowy. The money collected during the final will be used to purchase medical equipment for 15 pulmonology departments for children and 49 pulmonology departments for adults.
Main photo source: PAP/Jakub Kaczmarczyk