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Government to launch child screening scheme

Posted on Feb 05, 02:57PM | IANS

New Delhi, Feb 5 : To detect birth defects and development delays including disability early, the government will Wednesday launch a national programme for universal screening of children.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi will launch the 'Child Health Screening and Early Intervention Services' in Palghar, a tribal block in Thane district in Maharashtra, a health ministry official said Tuesday.

"The purpose of the scheme is to improve the quality of life of children through early detection of birth defects, diseases, deficiencies, development delays including disability," the official said.

The service will benefit an estimated 27 crore children in the age group of 0-18 years in a phased manner.

According to the health ministry, the burden of birth defects, development delays due to deficiencies and diseases is significant in children.

"This is also one of the important factors for child mortality and out of pocket expenditure for poor families.

"Out of every 100 babies born in India annually, six to seven have a birth defect. In Indian context, this would translate to 17 lakhs birth defects annually," he said.

"Development delays affect at least 10 percent children. These delays, if not intercepted timely, may lead to permanent disabilities including cognitive, hearing or vision."

A set of 30 common conditions have been identified for screening and further management.

"These services are built on the existing school health services and will be provided through dedicated mobile health teams placed in every block," he said.

The block level dedicated mobile medical health teams would comprise of four health personnel including two doctors.

"The teams will carry out screening of all the children in the age group 0-6 years enrolled at Anganwadi centres at least twice a year besides screening of all children enrolled in government aided schools," he said.

The newborns will also be screened for birth defects in health facilities where deliveries take place and during home visits by health workers.

The scheme will generate countrywide epidemiological data on select health conditions for improved future planning of health services.