On Tuesday, 9 September 2014, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Western Cape Minister of Health, Theuns Botha launched a new initiative aimed at introducing speech-language therapy and audiology services for children at all levels of the District Health System.
The programme will first be piloted in the Mitchell’s Plain health sub-district over the next two and a half years and will then be rolled out across the rest of the Western Cape province. The significance of the pilot project is that there is now an intervention to identify the problem at primary health care level. Once identified, the child will be referred for follow-up treatments, be it preventative, rehabilitative or curative.
It is envisaged that this ground-breaking pilot programme will benefit over 20,000 children who will have access to preventative, rehabilitative and curative services for speech, language and hearing disorders. Provision will also be made for the training of staff in the Mitchells Plain sub-district and at all levels of the health system in future, with a focus on improving referral systems and providing increased support to children who have been diagnosed with speech and hearing difficulties and their families.
The implementation model for the Western Cape Government’s new programme has been developed by the Carel du Toit Centre. The Centre will also be responsible for refining the programme further during the pilot phase and for rolling it out across the province in the future. The Western Cape Department of Health will provide R7.3 million for the pilot while, the Children’s Hospital Trust will fundraise a further R3 million.
Read more about the Child Speech and Hearing Programme