WINNIPEG, MANITOBA — Having come under fire in recent years over the country’s inconsistent newborn hearing screening program nationwide, Canada’s province of Manitoba has announced that it will officially expand its program to make screenings available in all regional health authorities, at 13 healthcare facilities, on September 1 of this year.
This week’s announcement of an official date comes one year after Sharon Blady, Manitoba’s Health Minister, announced the province would expand the newborn hearing screening program, following a number of complaints from healthcare professionals and parents.
“As a country, we are failing our children,” –Dr. Hema Patel, pediatrician and mother of hearing impaired child, was quoted in 2014 at a news conference following the publication of a Canadian study that found many infants were not receiving hearing screenings at birth.
Early Intervention Critically Important
As Minister Blady pointed out in her comments last year, early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss is critical for long-term success of the child with hearing loss, particularly when diagnosis is made before three months of age. This is why the province agreed in 2015 to increase funding for training and expansion of the program.
If babies are born at home or in smaller facilities, with less than 75 births per year, they will be referred to the closest outpatient clinic for hearing screening. In addition a common database created will help ensure children born in one location, but living in another, will still receive coordinated and consistent care.
According to government officials, there are approximately 16,000 to 17,000 babies born in Manitoba each year.
Source: CBC; image courtesy pmh