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Screen newborns for hearing problems: Brett Lee to Punjab govt

The Cochlear’s Global Hearing ambassador launched the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening programme at Sri Guru Ram Das University.

punjab Updated: May 29, 2018 11:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Amritsar
Screen newborns,hearing problems,Brett Lee
Brett Lee was in Amritsar to participate in the launch of the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) programme on Monday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT )

Raising awareness about the Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) programme at the SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Das University of Health Sciences (SGRD) here, former Australian cricketer and Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador Brett Lee said on Monday that the government should play its role in hearing loss screening for newborns.

Lee, who was in the city to participate in the launch of the programme, said he began spearheading the cause of hearing loss three years ago, in wake of an accident that temporarily impaired his four-year-old son’s hearing. “Parents should not ignore the smallest signs of hearing loss and should take speedy action. I have personally witnessed how an implant takes a person from silence to sound. It is a life changing moment,” he said, while addressing the launch.

Lee, who sported a Sikh turban, said “According to WHO, over 5% of the world’s population (over 466 million people) in the world suffer from disabling hearing loss. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)

He said, “As a cochlear implant (CI) is very costly, the government should help the needy in this direction”. CI is a surgically-implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss in both ears.

Lee, who sported a Sikh turban, said “According to WHO, over 5% of the world’s population (over 466 million people) in the world suffer from disabling hearing loss. About 34 million of those are children. If the right measures are not taken, the WHO says that by 2050, over 900 million people will have pro-hearing loss.”

Lee stressed on screening for hearing loss during childbirth. “I see Kerala’s endeavours to push for Universal Newborn Hearing Screening throughout the state as an outstanding example. Punjab can also attempt to do this,” the former fast bowler said.

Dr SP Dubey, Cochlear Implant Surgeon, said, “Newborn hearing screening can help address hearing loss related issues early, because without hearing, a child cannot develop speech or language. The UNHS recognises indications of hearing disability, and early discovery makes early treatment possible.”

AP Singh, dean, SGRD University, said, “Punjab has more than 1.46 lakh people suffering from hearing loss, including children. The first three years of a child are critical in developing language and speaking skills,” he said.

First Published: May 29, 2018 11:16 IST