2009 Highlights of Project Deaf India

In October 2009, Dr Desai went to Japan as a tourist for 9 days. This is the first time he did not wear a suit & tie and did not have any lecture commitments. He did cancer research in Japan 50 years ago, but much has now changed including high cost of living.   He visited Tokyo and vicinity, Mt. Fuji, Odawala, Nara & Kyoto. The best part was the excellent tour guide who made the tour enjoyable and informative.

In the year 2008, 14 local Rotary clubs of Goa and the host club of Dr Desai, Newport- Balboa RC, obtained a matching grant from Rotary International to conduct a unique project in the State of GOA. Several clubs of District 5320 also cooperated in the project. The Project was on the EARLY DETECTION OF NEWBORN HEARING LOSS AND INTERVENTION (EHDI). Interventions can include hearing aids, surgery, etc. There were only two Audiologists to evaluate 30,000 newborn births per year in Goa. A chance meeting of Dr Desai and four Rotarian Audiologists from Weymouth, Massachusetts who desired to visit India to do humanitarian work for two weeks, led to Dr Desai arranging for them to go to Goa. They were all lucky to obtain a travel grant from the Rotary International. The local Goa Rotarians provided a free home and chauffeured car These Rotarian Audiologists, in turn, trained 100+ healthcare workers on how to screen newborns for hearing loss. The Goa EHDI PROJECT is an ongoing success.

One goal of Project Deaf India was introducing EHDI to all of India. This was made a reality after Dr Desai met the ex-President of India in 2008 and requested that he introduce EHDI throughout INDIA, which has the highest incidence of deafness on the globe. His request was granted and presently India is working hard to train the needed number of ENT doctors and Audiologists to make this possible. The actual national EHDI program will begin in 2010.

Another goal of Project Deaf India achieved this year was to include comprehensive Measles and Rubella vaccination in the national Vaccination Plan of India.  Thanks to International agencies such as UNICEF, WHO and the CDC, along with Government of India the vaccination plan was started in all of INDIA this year. When the Nation is vaccinated, the incidence of DEAFNESS WILL BE DRASTICALLY REDUCED.

Dr Desai Honored as a First Speaker to the Newly Started UCI-ROTARCT CLUB

This is Katherine Cho from UCI Rotaract.. I wanted to thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to our group. Our club is only a month old and in the process of being chartered. As our very first guest speaker, you have certainly set the bar for our future speakers! Your amazing work with Project Deaf India has truly touched and inspired all those who were fortunate enough to be present for your presentation. We would be thrilled and honored if you would join us for our Charter Night social and fundraiser on May 22nd.

I have attached the photos that were taken during and after your presentation to this email. We have posted them on our UCI Rotaract facebook group :) I hope that we keep in touch Dr. Desai!!
Sincerely,
Katherine Cho

Obama makes dream come true for first Fulbright Fellow from India

Indo-Asian News Service

Washington, Jan 19 (IANS) When Barack Obama takes oath as America’s first black president Tuesday, no Indian American will be happier than the first Fulbright Fellow from India, Rajendra Desai, who describes Obama as “the greatest change God has granted America”.

“I was considered to be a black man and forced to sit with blacks in bus and restaurants in the early 1950s,” 85-year-old Desai told IANS on phone from his home in New Port Beach in California.

Recalling that incident in 1953 at Oak Ridge in the racially segregated state of Tennessee, the first Indian to become a cancer specialist in the US said: “I experienced first-hand what it meant to be a black man in the 1950s America. This happened to me when as a young doctor I was sent from Boston for training at the Institute of Nuclear Medicine in Oak Ridge.

“Whites in small-town America had never seen an Indian at that time. Oak Ridge had a population of 40,000. It was the centre where the Americans were perfecting the science of nuclear bombs.

“I was there for four weeks, and treated like any other black. The very first day, the driver of the local bus told me: `You nigger. You have to sit at the back’.”

The treatment was no different in city restaurants, said Desai, who was the first Indian doctor to get the Fulbright Fellowship in 1952.

“I was forced to sit in the back and made to eat with other blacks. This was the story all over small-town America. They were mostly illiterate people and they treated me as they treated blacks,” he said.

“I was a follower of Gandhi and practised tolerance in the face of humiliation. And what else could one do? My job was to learn nuclear medicine and get out of that town. So I kept my (mouth) shut,” said Desai who later founded the Indian Medical Association of Southern California.

Looking back at his experience as a `black man’ 55 years ago on the eve of Obama’s oath, Desai said: “Obama is the greatest change God has granted America. It is a dynamic society which has learnt quickly from its past and put the best man in the top position.”

He added: “Obama is a great intelligent man who will take America to new heights. Look at the accomplishments of this young man and his equally brilliant wife. They are the most brilliant and talented couple in this country today.”

However, Desai, who runs the multi-million Project Deaf in India to eradicate deafness, said he has his fears too.

“I am worried about some mad thing happening to him. I hope that no attempt is made to harm him. That is my prayer. With Obama at the helm, the American dream is alive and thriving.”

Silent Village Documentary

Dr. Raj Desai, a member of the Newport Balboa Rotary Club, District 5320 and Chairman of Project Deaf India was invited to give two keynote addresses by the District Governors of District 3050 and 3060 in India. The annual district conferences were held in the state of Gujarat and at  the cities of Ahmedabad and Bhuj on December 28 and 30,2007.

Attendance at the District Conferences numbered 2000 to 3000 Rotarians at each. The venue of the conference is held in a large football sized open area decorated by a beautiful tent and large stage. In addition to the usual Rotary speeches, 4-5 GUEST speakers from the local area are invited guest speakers and a representative of the Rotary International Presidents Representative from India.  Dr. Desai was the only speaker from a foreign country with the opportunity to create an awareness of his goals of Project Deaf India.

Dr. Desai had good news to share on the progress of the Pune Rubella vaccination program for teenage girls. A total of 200,000 girls are in the process of being vaccinated and should be completed by the end of March 2008. A second project of Early Detection of Newborn Deafness and Intervention will begin in April 2008 in Goa.

 Thank you YouTube.com for putting up our video! Here is the Silent Village Documentary 5:15 Minutes

Prevention Of Deafness

Dr Desai wrote at the request of the District Governors of India Rotary District 3050 & 3060

Deafness is one of the commonest congenital disabilities in the world. It is estimated to be 30 times more common than other congenital defects, such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, etc.

As reported by WHO, there are about 250-300 million deaf people in this world, 2/3 of them live in the underdeveloped nations, of these India has the largest share.

From a recent report in the India’s leading daily newspaper, The Times of India, Jan 23, 2007;

“That one out of twelve (1/12) persons in India has hearing loss. The problem is receiving political attention. The health ministry has launched its project to focus on The Prevention and Early diagnosis of deafness and not the least, treatment of ear infections and other diseases causing hearing loss ………”

This campaign was introduced at the end of Jan 2007 in 25 districts and 12 states of India.

If the above is implemented by the Health Dept., i.e. MMR vaccination and early detection of Newborn Hearing loss and intervention (EHDI), India will have a great reduction in Deafness, Blindness and other congenital defects within 10 years.

EHDI will also result in the marked improvement of the EDUCATION of the child with hearing loss, along with the treatment of the Deaf, providing them with hearing aids and other treatments as indicated.

As the subject of Deafness and prevention is so large, including the care of the ear and ear infections, Project Deaf India plans to focus on:

1) MMR vaccination to reduce Deafness and Rubella vaccination to prevent CRS syndrome (congenital Rubella syndrome) in their offspring.

2) EHDI= early detection of newborn Hearing loss and Intervention. During the past few years, accurate computerized equipment for newborn screening is available.

MMR Vaccination for India:

The introduction of MMR vaccination in developing nations results in definite benefits—A great reduction in deafness, blindness and other congenital defects.  MMR vaccination is given in two doses, the first at 12 months and the second dose at 4-5yrs of age, before entering school.

Early Newborn Screening of Hearing Loss and Intervention (EHDI):

Historically, EHDI was implemented in the USA, by Dr. Marion Downs, as early as 1964. Dr. Karl White and others made it a universal project since 1994 and pushed for mandatory legislation throughout the USA.

Why is the Early detection of Hearing Loss so Important?
Initially, babies who are born with hearing loss do not look or behave any differently from babies who are hearing.  However, undetected and untreated hearing loss has serious consequences on the acquisition of language skills as well as cognition and emotional and social development. Deafness separates people from people. The first 6 months of a baby’s life are very crucial for the development of speech and language.   Evidence shows that to be most beneficial, screenings should be done before discharge from hospital with diagnostic evaluation completed by 3 months of age. Intervention should be started by 6 months of age.

According to Kalyani, a Pune audiologist, these screenings can be synchronized with the national vaccination plan of India.  Infants identified with hearing loss can be fitted with amplification devices (hearing aids) as early as one month of age.  These children can then attend mainstream schools.

There is tremendous financial liability to society if the hearing impairments are untreated and undetected.

How can Newborn hearing be checked?
As a result of advances in technology, a newborns hearing can be checked shortly after birth. There are two main techniques for screening hearing in newborns: AABR (automated auditory brainstem response) or OAE (evoked oto-acoustic emission).  Both these methods are safe, simple and painless.  It takes only a few minutes to complete a screening.

In India, EHDI is being implemented in Mumbai, Chennai, Mysore, Trivandrum and now Goa. It should be started in all cities and villages in India.  It is the villages, where most of the population of India resides, EHDI is best coordinated under the national immunization plans for India.  In developed countries, every hospital has a screening machine for newborn hearing loss detection before the mother and baby are discharged from hospital.  The screening machine is a small handheld, battery-operated machine kept in the nursery.

For India, where the mother and child are kept in hospital for 5-7 days after delivery, we have introduced a screening method suited to the country.  Namely, and audiologist or Anganwadi health worker trained in the screening of newborns transports the screening unit from hospital to hospital for screening (the unit is the size of a laptop computer).  This way he can screen about 100 babies a day.  Those who fail the test are then referred to an ENT doctor for further confirmation of hearing loss and treatment; surgery, hearing aids, or cochlear implants.

India has a great shortage of audiologists and more so of pediatric audiologists, however an Anganwadi health worker can help fill this gap.

Suggestions for Improvement of Deafness in Gujarat:

The state of Gujarat has about 60 million people, with most of this population residing in villages, with agriculture as their livelihood.  They have fewer facilities of the modern lifestyle, medical/hospitals, schools, pure water & better hygiene and sanitation.  It is estimated that deafness is diagnosed at 4-6 years of age, resulting in the loss of the ability to learn language or communication skills.  The child is called DEAF AND DUMB.  No special deaf educational facilities are available in the villages. The deaf child lives an isolated life, does menial jobs or is given to an orphanage.  In the cities the deaf often beg on the streets.

If Gujarat’s female population is vaccinated with Rubella or MMR (measles, mumps and Rubella) vaccine then deafness and blindness can be drastically reduced, (50% reduction!).

In India, both vaccines are locally produced in Pune, and are available for Rs 30 for Rubella and Rs 50 for MMR per vaccine. Although,  it is most desirable that the National or State Governments take the responsibility for vaccination, an alternative is that we, as Rotarians undertake the task and achieve success, as we have done for Polio.

It is my desire that all Rotary Clubs of Districts 3050 & 3060 combine their efforts and apply for a 3H Grant from Rotary International.  I will also seek the cooperation of several clubs in my District in the USA (District 5320).

The realization of the above projects (vaccination and EHDI) in Gujarat will be an example for the rest of India for the reduction and intervention of deafness.

“EVERY CHILD  MUST BE ENSURED THE BEST START IN LIFE—THEIR FUTURE, AND INDEED THE FUTURE OF THEIR COMMUNITES, NATIONS AND THE WHOLE WORLD DEPENDS ON IT”

UNICEF

Hope for hearing impaired people in India

July 17, 2007, India:
Hope for hearing impaired people in India
Source: The Times of India Online, 23.01.2007

Far too many Indians suffer from hearing problems without receiving proper treatment. The Union Health Ministry of India has launched a national project focusing on hearing loss. The aim is to promote prevention and treatment.

At least one Indian in 12 suffers from hearing loss. The problem is receiving considerable political attention. The Health Ministry launched its project to focus on prevention, early diagnosis and, not least, treatment of ear infections and other diseases causing hearing loss.

The campaign was introduced at the end of January, 2007, in 25 districts in 12 Indian states.

As part of the project, the aim is to have one ear-, nose- and throat specialist, one audiologist and two additional medical doctors associated with each public and private hospital in the 25 districts. Each hospital will open an ear-, nose- and throat department.

Timely detection important 

According to experts, 50 percent of the cases of hearing loss can be prevented through early intervention. One aim of the project is to provide early detection of hearing loss and reduce the current 6.3 percent prevalence in the Indian population of progressive or acute hearing loss.

The most common types of hearing loss in India include perforated eardrum and age related hearing loss (presbyacusis).

   A VISION FOR INDIA – Article in Hearing Health(CLICK HERE)

Matching Grant of $53,000 – (2007-2008)

Project Deaf India, Chairman, Rotarian Raj Desai is awarded a new matching Grant  of $53,000 by the Rotary International, to conduct a new project in  the state of Goa,  India. The grant is  the results of a cooperative efforts between all fourteen   Rotary clubs of Goa, by the Past District Governor Mr Salgaocar, District 3170 and the Rotary Club of Newport Balboa, Newport Beach ,District 5320, spearheaded by Project Deaf India Chairperson, Rotarian Raj Desai
The funds are earmarked to conduct EARLY DETECTION OF NEWBORN DEAFNESS AND INTERVENTION. It is well recognized that modern computerized  screening instruments to detect hearing loss at birth are accurate enough to detect all degrees  of deafness. When a child is diagnosed deaf  at birth or in first month after birth, intervention is given such as surgery, hearing aids etc. This allows the child to permit early language recognition and speech. The child can then even be put in the mainstream educational classes.It is advisable to provide the child with hearing loss,speech, lip reading and sign  language  as a total communication program.
Because of home deliveries, private nursing homes, and Public Hospitals as birthing places, and the custom of keeping the mother and child for 5-7 days post delivery, an Audiologist is provided with a Scooter (motor bike) where he carries a small laptop size, screening instrument on the bike and visits different hospitals and even HOME DELIVERIES. If the child fails the screening test, he is referred to a main center/medical school for detail testing and intervention,.Such a scheme is economical for India so that every birthing place do not need to invest in the purchase of a screening machine.
When completed GOA will be the first state of India where all  newborns will be tested for deafness. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT AS INDIA HAS HIGHEST INCIDENCE OF DEAFNESS.

The success of achieving the Matching Grant is due to cooperation of Director of Intnl services, of NP Balboa rotary club, Dan Hoffman, and partnership and financial contribution of District 5320 rotary clubs such as  Avalon, Fullerton, Mission Viejo, and Norwalk.

Major Achievement to Prevent Deafness in India

A joint project of “Project Deaf India’ by the Rotary club of Newport Balboa ,Dist 5320  and Rotary club of Pune,India ,Dist 3130,  with the support of a $50,000 grant from the Rotary Foundation has resulted in giving Rubella vaccinations to 50,000 preadolescent girls.The project was conducted by the doctors of Pune city& school authorities & local Rotarians.
It is well known that a Rubella vaccination given to teenage girls will prevent DEAFNESS,BLINDNESS,NEWBORN HEART DISEASE AND MENTAL RETARDATION IN THEIR FUTURE OFFSPRING.
This was the first pilot project of Rubella VACCINATION in the city of PUNE and perhaps in India. There are still 150,000 more  girls to be vaccinated, in Pune. Dr Desai wishes to apply for a 3H grant to complete vaccination of all the remaining girls in PUNE city. He also hopes that this will create awareness by the GOVERNMENT OF INDIA to vaccinate  the teen girl population in the whole of India. It is well recognized that Prevention by vaccination is the most economical way to prevent diseases where a vaccine is available. India has one of the highest incidences of Deafness in the world ( 4.0 million or more). Dr Desai wishes to thank other Rotary Clubs in District 5320 who also gave funds to support the Project.

Write up of the Rubella vaccination program in India by Joint MG (Click) 
Color photo of school girls sitting to be vaccinated (Click)
One where a woman doctor is actually giving vaccination.(Click)
Large letter artcle “PUNE news line”   titled: Free Rubella vaccination which mentions both Cubs and district.(Click)
REMARKABLE PROGRESS BY PROJECT DEAF INDIA IN YEAR 2006(Click)
PROJECT DEAF INDIA EXPANDS FOCUS(Click)
BRIEF SUMMARY OF DR DESAI’S VISIT TO INDIA 2005 AND ATTENDANCE TO CENTENNIAL CHICAGO ROTARY INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION(Click)
Project Deaf India Letter(Click)
Hearing Health Article Page One(Click) (no file)
Hearing Health Article Page Two(Click)
Lake Como meeting in Italy(Click)
News Article in India-West Newspaper about Project Deaf India(Click)
Download a Video!!(8mb)(Click)
Trip to India(Click)

Rotary Donates Books for Deaf(Click)
Rotary Gives Gift to Deaf Children(Click)
Souvenir article at the Key note address given to Ahmedabad District Rotary 3050 annual conference”"

Souvenir article at the Key note address given to Ahmedabad District Rotary 3050 annual conference

Dr Desai wrote at the request of the District Governors of India Rotary District 3050 & 3060

Deafness is one of the commonest congenital disabilities in the world. It is estimated to be 30 times more common than other congenital defects, such as sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, hypothyroidism, etc.

As reported by WHO, there are about 250-300 million deaf people in this world, 2/3 of them live in the underdeveloped nations, of these India has the largest share.

From a recent report in the India’s leading daily newspaper, The Times of India, Jan 23, 2007;

” That one out of twelve (1/12) persons in India has hearing loss. The problem is receiving political attention. The health ministry has launched its project to focus on The Prevention and Early diagnosis of deafness and not the least, treatment of ear infections and other diseases causing hearing loss ………”

This campaign was introduced at the end of Jan 2007 in 25 districts and 12 states of India.

If the above is implemented by the Health Dept., i.e. MMR vaccination and early detection of Newborn Hearing loss and intervention (EHDI), India will have a great reduction in Deafness, Blindness and other congenital defects within 10 years.

EHDI will also result in the marked improvement of the EDUCATION of the child with hearing loss, along with the treatment of the Deaf, providing them with hearing aids and other treatments as indicated.

As the subject of Deafness and prevention is so large, including the care of the ear and ear infections, Project Deaf India plans to focus on:

1) MMR vaccination to reduce Deafness and Rubella vaccination to prevent CRS syndrome (congenital Rubella syndrome) in their offspring.

2) EHDI= early detection of newborn Hearing loss and Intervention. During the past few years, accurate computerized equipment for newborn screening is available.

MMR Vaccination for India:

The introduction of MMR vaccination in developing nations results in definite benefits—A great reduction in deafness, blindness and other congenital defects.  MMR vaccination is given in two doses, the first at 12 months and the second dose at 4-5yrs of age, before entering school.
Early Newborn Screening of Hearing Loss and Intervention (EHDI):

Historically, EHDI was implemented in the USA, by Dr. Marion Downs, as early as 1964. Dr. Karl White and others made it a universal project since 1994 and pushed for mandatory legislation throughout the USA.

Why is the Early detection of Hearing Loss so Important?
Initially, babies who are born with hearing loss do not look or behave any differently from babies who are hearing.  However, undetected and untreated hearing loss has serious consequences on the acquisition of language skills as well as cognition and emotional and social development. Deafness separates people from people. The first 6 months of a baby’s life are very crucial for the development of speech and language.   Evidence shows that to be most beneficial, screenings should be done before discharge from hospital with diagnostic evaluation completed by 3 months of age. Intervention should be started by 6 months of age.

According to Kalyani, a Pune audiologist, these screenings can be synchronized with the national vaccination plan of India.  Infants identified with hearing loss can be fitted with amplification devices (hearing aids) as early as one month of age.  These children can then attend mainstream schools.

There is tremendous financial liability to society if the hearing impairments are untreated and undetected.

How can Newborn hearing be checked?
As a result of advances in technology, a newborns hearing can be checked shortly after birth. There are two main techniques for screening hearing in newborns: AABR (automated auditory brainstem response) or OAE (evoked oto-acoustic emission).  Both these methods are safe, simple and painless.  It takes only a few minutes to complete a screening.

In India, EHDI is being implemented in Mumbai, Chennai, Mysore, Trivandrum and now Goa. It should be started in all cities and villages in India.  It is the villages, where most of the population of India resides, EHDI is best coordinated under the national immunization plans for India.  In developed countries, every hospital has a screening machine for newborn hearing loss detection before the mother and baby are discharged from hospital.  The screening machine is a small handheld, battery-operated machine kept in the nursery.

For India, where the mother and child are kept in hospital for 5-7 days after delivery, we have introduced a screening method suited to the country.  Namely, and audiologist or Anganwadi health worker trained in the screening of newborns transports the screening unit from hospital to hospital for screening (the unit is the size of a laptop computer).  This way he can screen about 100 babies a day.  Those who fail the test are then referred to an ENT doctor for further confirmation of hearing loss and treatment; surgery, hearing aids, or cochlear implants.

India has a great shortage of audiologists and more so of pediatric audiologists, however an Anganwadi health worker can help fill this gap.

Suggestions for Improvement of Deafness in Gujarat:

The state of Gujarat has about 60 million people, with most of this population residing in villages, with agriculture as their livelihood.  They have fewer facilities of the modern lifestyle, medical/hospitals, schools, pure water & better hygiene and sanitation.  It is estimated that deafness is diagnosed at 4-6 years of age, resulting in the loss of the ability to learn language or communication skills.  The child is called DEAF AND DUMB.  No special deaf educational facilities are available in the villages. The deaf child lives an isolated life, does menial jobs or is given to an orphanage.  In the cities the deaf often beg on the streets.

If Gujarat’s female population is vaccinated with Rubella or MMR (measles, mumps and Rubella) vaccine then deafness and blindness can be drastically reduced, (50% reduction!).

In India, both vaccines are locally produced in Pune, and are available for Rs 30 for Rubella and Rs 50 for MMR per vaccine. Although,  it is most desirable that the National or State Governments take the responsibility for vaccination, an alternative is that we, as Rotarians undertake the task and achieve success, as we have done for Polio.

It is my desire that all Rotary Clubs of Districts 3050 & 3060 combine their efforts and apply for a 3H Grant from Rotary International.  I will also seek the cooperation of several clubs in my District in the USA (District 5320).

The realization of the above projects (vaccination and EHDI) in Gujarat will be an example for the rest of India for the reduction and intervention of deafness.
“EVERY CHILD MUST BE ENSURED THE BEST START IN LIFE—THEIR FUTURE, AND INDEED THE FUTURE OF THEIR COMMUNITES, NATIONS AND THE WHOLE WORLD DEPENDS ON IT”

UNICEF

Rotary Gift to Deaf Children

The New Year brought new surprises to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing students at Taft Elementary School in Santa Ana.  Newport/ Balboa and the Santa Ana North Rotary Club jointly received a District Simplified grant from Rotary International. They donated $4,000 to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program (DHHP) to purchase much needed reading books.

Rotarian member, Dr. Rajendra Desai, along with other parents, helped establish the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program 35 years ago.  Having a deaf daughter himself, he recognized the need for deaf children to read.  Exposure to books teaches Deaf children English, which is directly connected to writing.  Dr. Desai understands the importance for deaf children to read and write in English in order to communicate in a hearing world.

Rotary Donates Books for Deaf

The Santa Ana and Newport-Balboa Rotary Clubs joined with Project Deaf India to donate books for deaf and hard of hearing students at Taft Elementary School.  The books use many pictures and larger text, which make it easier for deaf children to learn.  The books are valued at $4,000.

A key organizer in the donation was Rajendra Desai, whose daughter attended Taft three decades ago.

Eighty-five children are served by Taft’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program, the majority from Santa Ana.

Above, Taft Preschool student Nancy Guerrero and 5th grader Clemente Tellez; below, Rotary club representatives Rajendra Desai and Larry LeDoux with Taft Principal Steve Longacre.

Trip to India

On January 1, 2004 Dr. Desai started his three-week tour to India for continuation of “Project Deaf India.”  His first stop was Singapore for three days.  He observed the project on, “Early Detection of Hearing and Intervention.”  This project is supported by the government of Singapore, it consists of testing every newborn baby at all hospitals and nursing homes to detect hearing loss.  Even though the babies are kept for only two days in most of the hospitals all of them receive testing first by the OAE method and if they are detected to have hearing loss then they are confirmed with AABR technique.  In turn this is fed to the database for the whole city. He was very impressed by the several coordinators of this project whom worked very hard and are devoted to the project.

Dr. Desai then went to Chennai, India where he was invited as a guest speaker to All India Pediatric Conference.  He presented his forty- minute presentation with power point, this was well received because of ten-minute interaction with the audience.  After spending four days in Chennai he proceeded to Bangalore.  He gave two lectures to local hospitals on the same subject and then went to the city of Mysore where he has been working on the Rotary International Grants for the past five years.  The reception by the Mysore Rotarians is always exceptional.  He gave two more lectures on the above subject at two medical schools.  He also prepared a final matching grant application on “Early Detection of Hearing and Intervention.”   This application is between Rotary Club Mysore and the Rotary Club of Newport-Balboa.  The application is being sent to Rotary International with the hope of successfully achieving a grant of approximately. $60,000.

Dr. Desai then proceeded to Mumbai where he met his relatives and also discussed the future of his various projects with the Rotarians.  He then visited Pune where there is the Serum Institute of Pune.  This institute supplies various kinds of vaccines to about 130 countries.  There he met the son of the CEO as well as several members of the staff to discuss the possibility of the new project on “Vaccination with Rubella” for all teenage girls to prevent the rubella syndrome, which is greatly responsible for many congenital diseases such as deafness, blindness, heart disease, etc.  In the city of Pune there are approximately 10,000 teenage girls and if all receive vaccination with rubella their offspring’s will be free of the above diseases particularly deafness.  Dr. Desai returned to California after a 3 weeks successful tour.

He presented his resent documentary on “Prevention of Deafness in India” at all his lectures.  He is looking forward for successful achieving the above goals of detection of early deafness and vaccination with rubella in the near future

Visit to Lake Como meeting in Italy May 26-30, 2004

Raj Desai and his daughter, Anjali (See Photo) who is profoundly deaf were invited guests at the Newborn Hearing Screening (NHS 2004) in Lake Como Italy. They participated actively during plenary session as well as put up a poster on “Project Deaf India (See Photo).  The poster’s theme was supported by the Rotary Club of Newport Balboa, Rotary Club of Mysore, and The All India Institute of Speech and Hearing , Mysore(AIISH). The poster summarized the personal history of Anjali who was determined hearing impaired before 6 months of age, as a result of the Rubella syndrome.  She was then given Intervention with family, social and psychological support. Anjali was also introduced to sign language and schooling.

In Mysore, a pioneer project of the early detection of the hearing impaired of every new born and intervention, has been started (EHDI) and the preliminary data was presented. In Mysore, infants are born at public and private hospitals, there are also a sizable amount of births by midwives at home.  From a Matching grant of Rotary International, a mobile van equipped with a sound proof room will go to remote villages and test newborns before one month of age.  The infants found with hearing disabilities will be referred to a central facility for intervention; i.e. surgery, hearing aids or cochlear implants.  All given free to the needy and by a sliding scale to those who can pay.

In February, 2004, both Raj Desai and Anjali were invited to a National EHDI conference in Washington D.C. where Anjali was the only speaker who was deaf.  She was provided with sign language interpreters at both meetings. The success of her speech in Washington resulted in the invitation to the NHS 2004, International meeting at Lake Como, Italy.

At the NHS 2004 conference in Italy, Dr Desai took active part in the International forum on Newborn Detection and made an important contribution. As the EHDI is only practiced in the developing countries, whereas 2/3 of the deaf children are born in the UNDERDEVELOPED nations, Dr Desai remarked that the developed countries should share their experience with funding for instruments for Newborn Diagnosis and also send expert Pediatric Audiologists to train their counterparts in the poor nations. This idea drew immediate attention of the people who represented international groups, such as WHO.

The second point made by Raj Desai also deserved attention.  Because of his extensive experience as a Cancer Doctor he started many “Cancer support groups”, that meet weekly in most of hospitals, and help newly diagnosed cancer patient and family.  He suggested that similar groups should be started weekly, at every EHDI – newborn screening University or hospital. Recognizing that any disability at birth is a burden to the child and family, a supportive group, consisting of an ENT doctor, Audiologist, Social worker, a psychologist and parents of a successful deaf child, volunteer to help a newly diagnosed deaf child and the parents to face the disability.  The immediate response was well appreciated at the conference

Dr Desai distributed about 80-90 CDROMs of his documentary “Silent Village” to members of various countries.  Thus we hope that the “Project Deaf India” has now created awareness in many countries of the world with fervent hope that the incidences of deafness will be decreased globally by Rubella vaccination, and the early detection of deafness will enable a hearing impaired child with early intervention and make him/her a useful self earning citizen of the world.

Project Deaf India Summary

GOALS:
Project Deaf India (PDI) was started in 1998 by Dr. Raj Desai in conjunction with Rotary Clubs of Newport -Balboa and Mysore, India. The goal of Project Deaf India is to improve the lives of poor deaf children in India and prevent high incidences of deafness. An overview of the project can be viewed on the web at www.projectdeafindia.org.

HISTORY:
1998-PDI in collaboration with Gallaudet University and a matching grant from Rotary International, sent 2 teachers of the deaf to Mysore, India for a 3 month stay. They taught sign language to 350 students and parents and other interested public. In addition they taught basic computer skills to the children.

1999-Started an EHDI (early hearing detection & intervention program) in the city of Mysore and its outlying villages with a matching grant from Rotary International. A van with a soundproof cell and equipment to test for deafness in newborns was sent throughout the area, as 30% of births occur at home.  Testing was done in conjunction with the ALL INDIA INSTITUTE OF SPEECH AND HEARING. Approximately 50,000 newborns have been tested in this ongoing project.

2000-2001-Fellow Rotarians told of “villages of the deaf.” Took a team of researchers from NIH (USA) and All India Medical Institute, Delhi to these villages where we confirmed a high incidence of hearing impairment. The villagers were given hearing aids and a health clinic was established to treat causes of the deafness. There was only one well for 500 villagers it was contaminated, as it was used for bathing, washing clothes and drinking the same recycled water. Other causes of deafness included, lack of rubella-measles vaccination, acute and chronic ear infections, due to religious customs of putting daily coconut oil in the ears of the children, and consanguinity. Additional factors were low birth weight, malnutrition, lack of perinatal care and premature births. A 10 minute documentary was made called “Silent Village,” a short version can be viewed on the PDI website.

2003-4 The “Silent Village” visit brought to the fore the need for vaccinations. This has lead PDI to the goal of vaccinating preadolescent girls with MR (measles, rubella) vaccine.  At the encouragement of CDC-Atlanta and Dr. Lou Cooper, I went to India to pursue an MR vaccination program.  I learned that the SERUM INSTITUTE OF INDIA in Pune city was one of the major suppliers of vaccines in the world. They agreed to supply vaccine at half cost to use in a pilot program in Pune for the vaccination of preadolescent girls. It was determined that this included 200,000 girls and the cost would amount to US$200,000 including the cost of nurses, syringes, database management etc., which far exceeded the funds available from of Rotary International.  With the help of Dr. Cooper, I approached UNICEF, WHO, RED CROSS and other agencies with counterparts in India with no success for funding. I realize that funding has to come from the government of India or a major charitable source such as the Gates Foundation who has recently donated $750 million for vaccination of children in developing nations.

I am in a hurry to achieve this goal, as at the age of 82 my crackling bones cannot manage the 25 hour trip to India as they used to!

India 2005 RI Convention

In Jan 2005, Dr Desai visited India for the seventh consecutive year, since He started  PROJECT DEAF INDIA .The main purpose is to create more awareness of the GOALS of the project amongst Rotary clubs  throughout  India, to medical schools and practicing Physicians.
The two goals are, 1) To prevent high Incidence of Deafness and Rubella syndrome due to LACK OF MR= measles-Rubella vaccination in India Rubella syndrome includes deafness, cataracts, newborn heart disease and mental retardation in a pregnant woman, exposed to Measles and Rubella infection in early pregnancy
The Government of India do not include MR vaccine in their NATIONAL VACCINATION SCHEME. This has resulted in high incidence  of Rubella syndrome.
Interestingly, the vaccine is manufactured in PUNE, India and is available at a cost of approx one US dollar,  including  syringes and needles. The C D C Atlanta advices to give it all Teenage school girls so that their future offspring will be free of Rubella syndrome
 Vaccination for various infectious diseases is the  BEST prevention of the morbidity and mortality of the  disease  from our well established   experience in the UK , USA and all developed countries. The recent experience of The Rotary International to eradicate POLIO from this Globe is the best example .
Dr Desai gave talks to Rotary Clubs and medical health personnel in several cities ,Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Mysore, Trivandrum, and  Pune.
A new collaboration in the city of PUNE,( Near Mumbai) to start MR vaccination in the city of all  preadolescent girls has been initiated with Dist 3130 of city of PUNE. A Matching grant will be soon applied to Rotary International between Pune clubs and Newport Balboa Rotary club
2) The second Goal of Project Deaf India is to start EHDI= EARLY DETECTION OF NEWBORN HEARING AND INTERVENTION.
For the past 15 years when the computerized equipment to detect Newborn hearing at Birth is available, all the developed nations have started the  MANDATORY testing of  newborns for hearing, before MOM and Baby are discharged after birth, from the Hospital This has allowed early diagnosis, follow up at regular intervals, to confirm the hearing loss and provide treatment soon such as surgery, Hearing aids or Cochlear Implants It is evident that early diagnosis permits how to establish communication with the Hearing impaired child The hearing aids and cochlear implants are given before age of one year to the Deaf child. Although long-term results are still being collected from EHDi, it is apparent that the ability to communicate and language acquisition may be superior.
India diagnoses deafness as a routine at age 4-6 years and by then the child has mostly LOST communication, cognitive and related  skills.
This project is being started  at several cities in India particularly in Mysore and  Pune where our Rotary clubs have been collaborating.
During his visit to Pune Rotary Clubs, Dr Desai addressed a large energetic group of RYLA , some photos are included in this report
June 17 -23, 2005, there was a unique centennial Celebration Of Rotary International in Chicago, USA There were Rotarians from about 145 countries with an attendance of 41,000 from all over the GLOBE It was one of the most colorful gathering I have witnessed with the state of the art digital photography in a large convention center screen to inform an audience of 20,000 + in plenay sessions that were repeated to accommodate large attendees. The fellowship hall , various EXHIBITIONS OF INTERNATIONAL projects and the whole organization were commendable The opening ceremonies and The city Rotary parade were colorful because of  Rotarians from various nations with their Costumes  displaying their FLAGS
I did not want to miss it despite its largeness, as I well knew I may not be around to celebrate the next centennial
A large representation of our District 5320 was present

Humanitarian Award of the Carl Miller Discovery Grant

Hindu Daily News

Dr. Raj Desai has been granted Humanitarian Award of the Carl Miller Discovery Grant of the Rotary International Foundation. Dr. Desai took a trip to India to make a documentary on the prevention of deafness in India under the title, Silent Village.

Raj left Los Angeles soon after spending Xmas holidays with his family and arrived in Mumbai on December 30, 2002. In the next four days he gave four lectures to the Rotary Clubs in Mumbai on the subject Project Deaf India. He then arrived in Bangalore and met with his friend, Ron Carman, of Los Angeles, who helped him make the documentary. The best camera crew was selected and all went to Hubli by train. The seven hours ride on the train was successfully utilized in planning the documentary. More…

Pictures from Dr. Desai Recent Trip to India(Click)

A doctor brings music to the ears of ‘Deaf Villagers’(Click)

Project Deaf India is an international project supported by Newport Balboa Rotary Club, California, USA, Rotary Mysore, India, and Gallaudet University in Washington D.C., USA. The program, based in Mysore, India, is for deaf children, their parents and teachers. The project is headed by Dr. Rajendra Desai of Rotary Club Newport Balboa, California, USA. One of the primary goals of the Project is to establish a Vocational Computer School for the Deaf with the eventual goal of a full-fledged University

‘They could hear the birds sing again’

Hindu Daily News Sunday Jan. 18, 2004

 

Chennai, Jan. 17. Most storied begin with a bang, or a whimper. But this one started with silence— the accidental silence of Dr. Raj Desai’s fourth child. Anjali, born in 1964.

It was an accident that Pratima Desai contracted German Measles from a neighbor who dropped into their home in Boston, U.S. Unfortunately, Ms. Desai, or rather, her fourth-born—Anjali—became a victim of the Rubella epidemic that was sweeping across the U.S.

This diverted the Indian oncologist from his study of carcinogenic cells onto rehabilitation of person with hearing impairment. He stumbled on Gallaudet University, Washington, a varsity for the deaf and discovered that the best way to teach his child was to use a combination of sign language, lip reading and speech.

When Anjali went on to acquire a master’s degree and work at Gallaudet University, Dr. Desai did not think his task complete.

In fact, that is when the India chapter of the story began. He was attracted by a newspaper article about two villages in Hubli, Karnataka—Sulalli and Basavanakoppa—in which more than 30 percent of the population was deaf. Dr. Desai and his team of Rotarians discovered that the primary causes of deafness were water (single source) pollution, inbreeding and chronic ear infections caused by pouring coconut oil into the ears of infants.

This time, Dr. Desai, had to contend with the silent worlds of hundred of children. He started Project Deaf India and with funds from Rotary Clubs, his team dug three sub-terranean wells providing pure water, established a school and health clinic and distributed hearing aids to the children..

Soon, the changes began to show. The wells brought water to the villagers and hearing aids, sound. “The transformation was magical. Children told me they could hear the birds sing again,” Dr. Desai says.

Not one to rest on his laurels, the octogenarian is presently working to vaccinate teenage girls against German Measles. Mobil vans also comb the villages in and around Mysore to detect deafness in children.

“Every child has some residual hearing. We have to give him/her a fair chance and the right training to develop,” Dr. Desai says.

In quite the manner of warrior on a battlefield, he believes that it is his task to ensure that every deaf child in the country gets that chance.

June 27-30 2002 – Improving Children’s Lives Through Immunization and Education

PROJECT DEAF INDIA UPDATE OF MARCH 2002 REPORT(Click)

Shown is an Ear Exam with a hearing impaired woman by a local Rotarian MD..Click on photo for larger view

ENTER HERE FOR MORE REPORTS on Dr Desai’s journeys.


Shown below are a series of story telling cards on Deaf India. Click on each card to view and read

Shown below are photos of a few of the Deaf Children of India 

Note: For large (full) view ) of photos, click on image(s).