Integrating advanced technology with local partners, the Shruti program delivers low-cost ENT care to underserved communities in India.
WORKING WITH LOCAL HEALTH SYSTEMS TO DELIVER CARE TO UNDERSERVED PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD
Imagine living with an undiagnosed ear injury or infection. In some countries, lack of public awareness — coupled with underdeveloped healthcare infrastructure — can turn what should be a relatively routine diagnosis and treatment plan into years of pain, frustration, and possible permanent hearing loss for children and adults.
According to the World Health Organization, 466 million people around the globe suffer from disabling hearing loss — more than 5 percent of the world’s population.1 Ninety percent of the burden of chronic ear infections is borne by countries in Southeast Asia, the Western Pacific, and Africa.
SHRUTI PROGRAM CREATES INROADS TO ACCESS
By integrating advanced technology with the right partners, Medtronic crosses borders to overcome barriers to healthcare access and deliver solutions around the world. One of them is the Shruti program in India. Undiagnosed ear problems are particularly pervasive in India, where 77 percent of those with chronic suppurative otitis media suffer hearing loss.2
Launched in 2013, the Shruti program brings sustainable, low-cost otology services — including awareness education, screening, diagnosis, and treatment — to underserved communities, particularly in densely populated, low-income urban areas. Outreach is facilitated by specially trained community health workers who go door-to-door to tell residents about the dangers of unchecked ear infections and inform them about the availability of free hearing screenings in their communities.
At the screenings, these health workers use an innovative, mobile-based ear screening kit that is capable of capturing patient information and ear images. Medtronic partnered with a local Indian design firm, Icarus; and a U.S.-based mobile health startup, ClickMedix, to develop the product.3 Images are transmitted to Shruti program staff and an ENT surgeon.
People with any hearing loss or more serious problems are referred to Shruti ENT care partners for treatment or potential surgery at an affordable cost. Here, the surgeon can access the screening information that’s been transmitted about the patient. After more detailed testing, appropriate treatment is prescribed.
In India, 77 percent of those with chronic suppurative otitis media suffer hearing loss.2
GLOBAL REACH, LOCAL FOCUS
Through the Shruti program, Hina, a young woman from Azadpur, New Delhi, was diagnosed with a perforated eardrum. Unaware of the perforation, she had lived for eight years with pain due to a continuous ear infection, and never went to a doctor. The program enabled Hina to meet with a patient counselor and eventually undergo a successful tympanoplasty in January 2014.
“What Medtronic has is unique,” says Dr. Nishi Gupta, Head of Department, ENT, Dr. Shroff’s Charity Eye Hospital, one of Medtronic’s local clinical partners. “It can actually change the scenario; the way we look at ENT. I think if we are ready to serve, and there is a population that needs our help, we need to find ways to actually reach them, pick out those patients, and use these kinds of services.”
THROUGH SHRUTI, TRAINED COMMUNITY HEALTH WORKERS PERFORMED OVER 600,000 EAR SCREENINGS FROM JUNE 2013 THROUGH MARCH 2019.
Since the launch of this social business, over 600,000 people have been screened. More than 15,000 have received affordable treatment for identified ear conditions and/or hearing loss – including intervention at ENT partner sites and receipt of digital hearing aids that can be programmed in the field. Shruti continues to address the critical need for affordable and accessible treatment of chronic ear infections in parts of the world where many people suffer from preventable partial or complete deafness by building new partnerships which enable increased access and maximized impact.
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