Enough is enough! - The public voices its support for a Universal Newborn Hearing-Screening Program in Québec



    Québec Coalition for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening
    calls on the Minister of health to fund such a program now!

    MONTREAL, June 18 /CNW Telbec/ - Thanks to a petition and letter writing
campaign, 1000s of individuals, organizations, foundations and associations
have been able to voice their opinion and say: Yes! We support the creation of
a universal newborn hearing-screening (UNHS) program in Québec.
    Hearing loss is the most common birth defect affecting 1 to 3 of every
1000 newborns. Yet in Québec, newborns don't have their hearing tested. Early
detection and treatment of hearing loss makes an enormous difference in the
lives of the hearing impaired. This is why most Canadian provinces already
have universal newborn hearing-screening programs. That's why Poland has a
universal newborn hearing-screening program. That's why Estonia has a
universal newborn hearing-screening program.
    When an infant's hearing loss is detected late, the hearing impairment
could lead not only to an inability to communicate using speech, but could
also lead to developmental delay that will impact on the child's ability to
learn and to become a productive and happy citizen. In the end, this will end
up costing society as the child will require special education and may need
income support due to poor employability.
    In February, L'Institut national de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)
published a 200-page report, which strongly recommends that a UNHS program be
launched without delay. This report, which ironically, was commissioned by the
Minister of health, was written by a taskforce of experts in the field of
hearing loss. They studied the issue for more than three years before making
their recommendations. The report is so thorough it is a virtual blueprint:
explaining why a universal hearing screening program is essential; estimating
the cost of such a program; explaining the infrastructure that has to be put
in place and the staff that needs to be hired.
    The government's apparent reluctance to implement the recommendations
made in this report, and the public's support for a UNHS program have
triggered unprecedented collaboration amongst advocates for children,
resulting in the creation of the Quebec Coalition for Universal Newborn
Hearing Screening.
    Parents, children, health professionals and groups, organizations and
associations representing the hearing impaired have joined forces to encourage
the Québec government to follow the recommendations of its expert taskforce
and to respect the UN Rights of the Child.
    "On behalf of its members, l'Association des Pédiatres du Québec strongly
supports the recommendations of l'Institut de santé publique du Québec (INSPQ)
with regards to universal newborn hearing screening and the implementation of
such a program in Québec," says Dr. Thérèse Côté-Boileau, president of the
l'Association des Pédiatres du Québec.
    "Enough is enough," says Dr. Hema Patel, a pediatrician at The Montreal
Children's Hospital of the MUHC and mother of a child born with profound
hearing loss. "We need to act now, because if we don't children born with
hearing loss may never learn to speak. By failing to implement a universal
newborn hearing-screening program, we are effectively contravening the United
Nations declaration on the Rights of the Child."
    Ms. Hurteau, an audiologist and a member of the INSPQ taskforce says:
"Detecting hearing loss in a newborn is fast, easy and inexpensive.
Rehabilitation measures are efficient. Children with a hearing loss who are
diagnosed within their first months of life and who receive timely
rehabilitation are learning to hear, speak and communicate normally. With an
investment of five-million dollars annually, a universal newborn hearing
screening program would save taxpayers 1.6 millions dollars annually.
Financially is just makes sense."
    "The Coalition wants to work with Dr. Couillard, the Minister of Health
to launch a UNHS program. Together we can make a difference," says Mr. Claudio
Bussandri, a profoundly deaf businessman and Chairman of the Québec Coalition
for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening. "Hearing impaired children will reach
their full potential and take their rightful place in Quebec society."




For further information:

For further information: Lisa Dutton, (514) 412-4307,
Lisa.Dutton@muhc.mcgill.ca


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