Dr Harsh Vardhan wants 5 New AIISH-like institutions across India


Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Health Minister, has announced plans for setting up five new national level institutions along the lines of the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing (AIISH), the premier centre here, which is now in its golden jubilee year.

The Minister would soon form a committee to decide on the location of the new centres. A parallel endeavour would be to set up speech and audiology departments in all medical colleges of the country that desire to have them. A number of such colleges have evinced interest which the Ministry is considering.

Addressing the faculty and students of AIISH, at Mysore today, Dr Harsh Vardhan said that prevention of communication disabilities and rehabilitation of patients form a major thrust area of his vision of a healthy India. He urged the experienced faculty of AIISH, led by the director, Dr S.R. Savithri, to bring to bear their vast knowledge on an action plan which would be implemented throughout the country.

On a tour of Mysore today, Dr Harsh Vardhan also visited the 90-year-old Mysore Medical College Hospital where he launched the “Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan” by symbolically sweeping the grounds of the hospital and removing litter with his hand. He went on to inspect the wards and interacted with the patients and doctors. The Minister also planted a sapling on the garden fronting the hospital.

Silent Diwali: a nationwide campaign

Dr Harsh Vardhan, who yesterday wrote to the Delhi administration authorities on the need to observe a “silent Diwali” free of noise making crackers, reiterated today the need for a nationwide implementation of the Supreme Court’s 2005 order banning firecracker bursting in neighbourhood areas.

“Diwali is the festival of lights and should not be polluted by noise. One person’s merry making should not be the cause of another’s trauma,” he remarked. In this connection, he instructed the faculty of AIISH to issue a statement alerting the nation on the harmful effects of noise pollution.

“I see a lot of children with neuro developmental disorders being treated here. A lot of hearing disorder cases can easily be prevented through a well-honed and practical prevention strategy which should be developed by the experienced specialists of AIISH,” he said.

Issues related to Mother and Child Care is also involved here. Dr Harsh Vardhan pointed out that awareness should be drilled into new mothers on the link between some drugs that are prescribed during pregnancy and the risks they carry for the hearing abilities of the child after birth.

He also asked the authorities of AIISH to institute a rural outreach model for the whole country by undertaking surveys in villages on the burden of hearing and speech disorders. Also, treatment facilities should be set up at the primary health centre level. At a later stage, the “Karnataka model” would be introduced on a nationwide scale he stated.

Dr Harsh Vardhan inspected the facilities of AIISH and interacted with patients, audiologists and speech therapists. He saw for himself how state-of-the-art equipment can aid the treatment process. At the Centre for Rehabilitation and Education Through Distance Mode, the Minister spoke to patients and their relatives at the NetajiSubhash Chandra Bose Medical College, Jabbalpur. Other institutions connected with this department include Dr Ram ManoharLohia Hospital, Delhi, JIPMER, Pondicherry, and JLNMC, Bhagalpur.

He also presided over the dedication of the new Audiology Block, the Initiation of Activities of Knowledge Park, the concept launch of the proposed museum of AIISH, and launched the architectural design of the proposed Centre of Excellence. Later, he also chaired the meeting of AIISH’s Executive Council.

Also present on the occasion were Mr V. Srinivas Prasad, Minister for Revenue, Karnataka, Mr U.T. Khader, Minister for Health, Karnataka, Mr PratapSimha, MP of Mysore and Kodagu, Mr Vasu, MLA, Dr S.R. Savithri, Director of AIISH, Mr LovVerma, Union Health Secretary and other senior officials.

Before leaving Mysore, he addressed the students of Mysore Medical College. He exhorted them to dedicate themselves to spreading the good word of disease prevention methods to patients. He also spoke on the importance of developing out-of-the-box responses to complex situations in the field of public health. He stressed the importance of prescribing rational drugs which considerably reduces the expenditure burden of patients.