In an effort to bridge the gap between the primary health care and secondary health care institutions in Region 10, the Department of Health has rolled out another programme, which will see an additional medical service being offered at health centres across the region. In the coming weeks, nurses and other medical professionals attached to health centres across Region 10, will be trained in Speech Therapy so as to conduct semi-informal assessments in particularly infants with delayed developmental milestones, especially in delayed speech.
This will be facilitated by Speech and Language Therapist/ Audiologist attached to the Linden Hospital Complex (LHC), Mitchell Jackman. Jackman’s proposal to provide the service to the health centres was accepted and supported by the Regional Health Officer (RHO), Dr. Gregory Harris. “We welcome the idea, we support it because we are looking to expand the services offered at the health centres to make them more specialised,” Harris said.
Jackman said that the programme aims to bring early intervention through early identification, and this identification will be more effective at the health centres, since pediatric clinic is held weekly at the institutions. There the nurses can have a first-hand view of the child’s development during counselling sessions. Using their training, the nurses will be able to refer the patients to LHC for specialised care.
Jackman said in 2019, 13 children with delayed speech were referred to LHC for therapy, while five were referred in 2020. This decrease in number she said was as a result of the pandemic. Once a child is referred, she is urging parents to accept treatment through therapy and be consistent with the programme. “Parents think it is about using a tablet and you get better but it is a prolonged process and parents need to be patient and remain consistent,” she said. Speech delay in infants can be caused by environmental or medical factors such as conditions caused by brain damage.