Artificial cochlea to help children hear the world in north China
"Fallen leaves are grateful to the trees for nourishing them; the flowers are grateful to the rains for nurturing them; I am grateful to my motherland for giving me the hope of rebirth…"
9-year-old Jiang Linpeng recites a poem written by his mother in a rehabilitation center.
After suffering from a high fever when he was just four years old, he totally lost his hearing.
His mother says it made him angry and depressed.
"At that time, he was bad-tempered. When we went shopping and he wanted to buy something, if I refused, he would cry and scream. Sometimes when we were at home, he might also throw things around and break them."
Jiang's family applied to an aid program for hearing-impaired children sponsored directly by the provincial government in 2014. After artificial cochlea implantation surgery, he attended a rehabilitation center for listening and speaking courses.
Thanks to the artificial cochlea, Jiang Linpeng can hear and speak, although not as well as his peers.
He was admitted to elementary school two years ago and had classes together with other normal children.
The provincial aid program was launched last year. Eligible children up to 6 years old can apply for the artificial cochlea implantation surgery and rehabilitation training for free.
The costs of the treatment and rehabilitation come to 90,000 yuan, or more than 13,000 US dollars, per patient, which includes the cost of artificial cochlea and operation fee.
Zhu Lijie, Chairman of Hebei Disabled Persons' Federation, says children up to 6 years old are the key emphasis of this aid program, because children in this age group are in a critical period of language learning and acquisition.
"Every year, over 300 children on average can receive the implantation surgery, and this year we plan to subsidize 850 children. In the future, we will sponsor every hearing-impaired child to get the implantation. We won't let any kids in need between 0 to 6 years old miss the best period of treatment."
Figures from World Health Organization show there are a total of 32 million hearing-impaired children worldwide. In China, there are nearly 30,000 newborn children with hearing impairments every year.
The artificial cochlear was first trialed in China in 1995, and over the past two decades, more than 50,000 implantation operations have been carried out in the country.
But it's suggested China still needs to do more to ensure all needs are met.
Some experts say the country currently has only around 80 surgeons who are skillful enough to carry on the artificial cochlea implantation surgery, and it usually takes 10 to 15 years for a specialist to become qualified.