A universal hearing screening program for all Manitoba newborns is being implemented across all regional health authorities effective Sept. 1, 2016. There are between 16,000 and 17,000 births in Manitoba annually, and every year between 17 and 102 children are born with some hearing loss.
“Early detection and diagnosis helps children with congenital hearing loss get the treatment they need as early as possible,” said Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Kelvin Goertzen.
The hearing screening program is available at 13 health-care facilities across the province
Infants born at home or in facilities with fewer than 75 births per year will be referred to the nearest outpatient hearing centre for screening. A common database will ensure individuals born in one region and living in another will have co-ordinated care.
“Manitoba families will benefit from a universal program with consistent screening services across the province, so children with congenital hearing loss have the opportunity to develop strong cognitive, speech-processing and learning skills,” said Goertzen
The Universal Newborn Hearing Screening Act was introduced in 2013 and received all-party support. Since that time, regulations and standard processes and procedures were developed and the necessary equipment was installed throughout the province to provide services, the minister noted.
The province has invested more than $3 million in the program to date including equipment, staff, training and operating costs.