Every single child should be screened for hearing loss: Brett Lee  

 

>>According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 34 million children worldwide suffer from profound hearing loss. Four in every 1,000 babies born in India suffer from severe to profound hearing disability

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Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador and International Cricket legend Brett Lee was in Kerala once again to amplify conversations about Universal Newborn Hearing Screening across all hospitals in the state. Dr. K G Satheesh Kumar, Executive Director, National Institute of Speech and Hearing (NISH), and Dr. Mohammed Asheel, Executive Director, Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) joined him at the National Institute of Speech and Hearing to talk about the significant progress made by Kerala in screening newborns for hearing loss and talk about the necessary measures to be undertaken to ensure that every single child born in the state is screened for hearing loss.

Speaking at the briefing Brett Lee said, “Kerala has made significant progress from my last visit in 2017 and this must be applauded. With 66 government maternity centres across the state that launched hearing screening for newborns, Kerala’s endeavors to push for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening is an outstanding example of trailblazing leadership in introducing such an important healthcare initiative in India. Today 86 out of 100 babies born are screened for hearing loss. We must and will strive together to complete the last mile.”

According to the WHO, over 5 per cent of the world’s population – or over 466 million people in the world suffer from disabling hearing loss. 34 million of these people are children. If relevant measures are not undertaken, over 900 million people will have severe hearing loss by 2050. Yet, most people are unaware of the advanced treatment options available.

In his remarks, Dr. K G Satheesh Kumar, Executive Director, National Institute of Speech and Hearing mentioned, “At NISH, we are devoted to educate and rehabilitate individuals with speech, language and hearing impairments. Newborn hearing screening has helped to identify hearing impairment at an early age and has helped the children with deafness to make significant progress to acquire spoken language. So far, Kerala is the first state in the country to provide hearing screening for children in all government centres. UNHS can be the part of a checklist carried out before issuing a child’s birth certificate at all the hospitals.”

Talking about the work they are doing, Dr. Mohammed Asheel, Executive Director, Kerala Social Security Mission (KSSM) commented “KSSM has played a significant role in initiating the early screening programme in the State. Kerala Social Security Mission developed software where real time data of the newborn screened can be recorded and shared with other institutions such as District Early Intervention Centres (DEICs) and medical colleges to help regular follow ups and to be able to provide advanced services. We want to make sure that every newborn gets screened so that any congenital auditory problems can be detected and the child can benefit from necessary early intervention in the form of hearing aids or cochlear implants. Therefore, moving ahead, we plan to make UNHS mandatory for birth certificate and also for entry to schools. We are hoping to have full participation from the private sector as well.”   

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