Nima Wangdi

Ministry of Health will begin nationwide screening for hearing impairment from April.

The “Hear, Listen, and Speak” programme will be carried out under the flagship initiative to provide comprehensive ear and hearing services to the people.

Eligible Bhutanese will be screened and medical intervention or assistive devices such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant, if medically advised, will be provided free.

The programme is aimed at achieving universal ear and hearing services for all in pursuance of the global agenda of universal health coverage (UHC).

“We urge every eligible Bhutanese to have access to quality ear and hearing services across the country,” said Sowa Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo on March 6, while observing World Hearing Day.

According to the World Health Organization, there are over 1.5 billion people living with hearing loss; nearly 60 percent constitute children. “The causes of hearing impairment could have been prevented through public health measures.”

About 2.2 percent of Bhutan’s population have hearing difficulties, according to the population and housing census of Bhutan.

“To address visual and hearing impairments in the country, in 2020, the health ministry embarked on a comprehensive package of services in line with the government’s commitment to narrow the gap in service provision in the country,’ says the ministry on its Facebook page.

Visual and hearing are the two most common impairments in the country, according to the health ministry.

Bhutan has achieved 99.5 percent coverage of refractive error screening among school-going children and provided free eyeglasses to children with refractive errors across the country.