Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

New Delhi, 19.03.2024: Sankalp Trust Foundation (STF), a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring hearing and speech in deaf children, has raised funds from the Rotary Club and other benefactors who recognize the critical importance of enabling children with hearing impairments to thrive. The charity fundraiser event attended by cochlear implantees and their families, professionals from the corporate sector, and medical practitioners served as a platform to raise awareness about the challenges faced by deaf children and the impact of cochlear implant surgeries in transforming their lives. On the occasion, the cochlear implantees and their families shared their cochlear implant journey, and cochlear implant children communicated with the audience.

In India, 3-4 children out of every 1000 live births are born deaf, and many more develop hearing loss as a result of neonatal infection. The gold standard of treatment in such cases is cochlear implant surgery. However, it is not affordable to many as the cost of the implant, surgery, and post-surgery habilitation therapy is around Rs 8 lakh. Due to this, a large number of children are unable to undergo surgery, attend regular schools, or integrate into mainstream society. Recognizing the urgent need for intervention, the STF extends its support to families with annual incomes below Rs 5 lakh, offering free cochlear implants with the family paying only Rs 1.5 lakh for surgery at Max Smart Hospital and 1 year of post-implantation AVT at the Sankalp ENT & Cochlear Implant Centre for children under 3 years of age. For older children, partial funding of Rs 2-2.5 lakh is provided, ensuring that financial constraints do not impede access to essential healthcare services.

On receiving the funding, Dr. Sumit Mrig, Founder and Managing Trustee of Sankalp Trust Foundation and Associate Director and Head of the Department of ENT, Max Smart Hospital, Saket, expressed his gratitude, stating, “This funding marks a significant milestone in our mission to provide life-changing opportunities for deaf children. With this support, we can continue our efforts to offer essential interventions and support services to those in need. With the continued support of our partners and well-wishers, we remain steadfast in our mission to create a world where every child has the opportunity to hear, speak, and fulfill their potential.”

Emphasizing the importance of such initiatives, Dr. Arun Kumar Agarwal, Professor of Excellence in ENT at MAMC and STF Trustee, said, “Through collective efforts and community support, we can bridge the gap in access to essential healthcare services for deaf children. The funds raised will enable us to expand our outreach and provide comprehensive assistance to more children in need.”

Among the key highlights of the charity fundraiser event were the donation of hearing aids to 5 children and the commitment to fund the education of 2 children for 2 years, covering school fees and course materials. In addition, the Trust unveiled plans to perform 25 cochlear implant surgeries annually, aimed at restoring hearing and speech abilities in deaf children.

The limited availability of certified specialists in speech therapy and auditory-verbal therapy (AVT), particularly in smaller towns and cities, presents a major post-operative challenge for families of cochlear implant recipients. This obstacle often forces parents to relocate to Delhi for up to a year, incurring significant financial strain. To alleviate this burden, the STF has established a guest house facility at the Sankalp ENT & Cochlear Implant Centre. Here, families can access affordable accommodation while their child receives essential speech therapy, thereby reducing the financial burden associated with prolonged stays in Delhi.

In addition, the Trust plans to establish a dedicated therapy center to provide AVT and speech therapy to children who have undergone cochlear implant surgery. This research center will be equipped with state-of-the-art infrastructure, catering to the needs of 10-15 children. Moreover, accommodations will be provided for 10-12 families, fostering a supportive environment conducive to the holistic development of children with hearing impairments.

Recognizing its humanitarian work, the STF will be honored with the Distinguished Service Award 2023-2024, accompanied by a cash prize of Rs 3 lakh, by the Rotary Club of Delhi Premier. This contribution will be allocated towards funding the cochlear implant surgery of a deserving child, furthering the organization’s mission of transforming lives through the gift of hearing.

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