Universal Hearing Screening Programs

One of the priority task of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing is universal screenings program in different age children. A very important role in paving the way for hearing screening programs – developing methods, procedures and tools for hearing screening and popularization of the idea of screening in children in various age groups – played the actions coordinated and implemented by the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in collaboration with many institutions allover Poland. Based on these actions hearing screening in Poland has been performed in two populations of children – in newborns and infants and in school-age children.

Newborn hearing screening

In the period of 1992-1994, under the direction of Prof. Maria Góralówna in collaboration with the team of the Diagnostic-Treatment-Rehabilitation Center ‘Cochlear Center’ headed by Prof. H. Skarżyński, had been implemented a hearing screening program in newborns from the risk group in 15 neonatology and pediatric centers in Warsaw. This program covered more than 15,000 children.

In the years 1995-1998, under the direction of Prof. H. Skarżyński had been implemented a funding grant of the Minister of Health ‘Elaboration of the uniform program of newborn screening for hearing loss’. Within the framework of this program methods and procedures of screening in newborns have been elaborated, as well as models of screening programs – universal and for newborns from the risk group. The program encompassed several centers from entire Poland. Altogether during the implementation of this research program, while testing different models, almost 15,000 children had been screened. To close this research grant, a project of the Ministry of Health regulation on newborn hearing screening had been elaborated. In 1998, the implementers of this grant had been rewarded with the Minister of Health Award 1st Degree.

In the years 1996-1998 the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing participated in the European program ‘European Concerted Action AHEAD (Advancement of Hearing Assessment methods and Devices)’ with a goal of elaborating the common European position on newborn hearing screening. The consensus on universal newborn hearing screening in Europe had been signed in Milan, Italy in 1998, the signatory for Poland was Prof. H. Skarżyński.

In the years 1998-2001 under the framework of the Government Program for Handicapped and Their Integration in the Society, financed by the National Rehabilitation Fund (PFRON), with participation of several score centers from all over Poland, hearing screening was being popularized and implemented, and the diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation infrastructure for future screening programs was established. The screening program, coordinated by the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, encompassed over 60,000 newborns and infants.

In January 2001 the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity Foundation collected during the 9th Grand Finale funds for implementation of the universal newborn hearing screening in Poland. The collected money had been used to purchase the necessary equipment and accessories and to train personnel in over 400 neonatology centers. Under the framework of this program, which the Foundation continues to subsidize, are functioning several score of the 2nd stage reference centers and a score of 3rd stage reference centers. These centers had been provided with diagnostic equipment.

In sum, during 10 years of the program more than 3,000,000 children had been screened. The percentage of newborns in whom a congenital hearing loss is detected, is 1,2‰ .

Hearing screening in school children

In 1999 the team of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, in collaboration with the Brigham Young University from Provo, USA and the Marie Curie-Skłodowska University from Lublin conducted hearing screening in different regions of Poland in a group of about 6,000 schoolchildren and youths. The results had shown that in the age-group 6-19 y.o. every child in five has some kind of a hearing problem.

Under different programs, such as Ministry of Health Program of Care for People with Hearing Dysfunctions in Poland, program of the Regional Health Care Management office in Mazowsze region, program of the Ministry of Education and Sport, that had been implemented by the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in collaboration with numerous centers from the whole Poland, modern multimedia tools for hearing screening have been developed, over 3,500 people were trained in performing screening tests using ‘I can hear…’ program and screening programs have been implemented in various centers. In sum, more than 280,000 hearing screening tests have been performed. New devices that have been developed, included ‘I can hear…’, ‘I can see…’, ‘I can speak…’ (in collaboration with the Multimedia Systems Department of the Gdańsk University of Technology) and the Audiometer AS (in collaboration with the Institute of Steering Systems EMAG in Gorzów).

A program of hearing screening in schoolchildren from 6th grade is being implemented in Warsaw since 2007. In 2011 this program included also first graders. In total these programs covered until present day more than 56,000 children.

In the years 2008 – 2011 the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing, in collaboration with the Contribution Fund of the Farmers Social Insurance and the Agricultural Social Insurance Fund (KRUS) conducted screening in schools in villages and small towns. There were in total almost 293,000 children screened during these programs.

Additionally in the years 2007-2011 were implemented screening programs in collaboration with local governments in communities and small towns. These programs encompassed over 8,000 children.

In 2008 the Institute of Sensory organs in collaboration with the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing developed a new multimedia instrument for screening – the Sense Examination Platform. Local screening programs have been implemented with the support of funding from the Ministry of Education, basing on about 500 psychological-pedagogical centers located allover Poland.