A Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) program was launched today, at the S. R. Goyal Government Hospital. This program was inaugurated by Australian cricket legend and Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador, Brett Lee along with Dr. Sudhir Bhandhari, Principal and Controller, SMS Medical College & attached hospitals and Dr. Jagdish Singh, Medical Superintendent, S. R. Goyal Govt. Hospital. The program aims to ensure that all newborn babies undergo a hearing screening test at birth.
From the 466 million people suffering
from hearing loss globally, 34 million are children. Talking about the
significance of newborn hearing screening, Dr.
Sudhir Bhandhari, Principal and Controller, SMS Medical College said, “Helping people hear and live a happy life
is such a priceless experience. I am honoured to be a part of this initiative which
will be screening all newborns for hearing at birth. We aim to raise awareness
about UNHS and believe paediatricians and all other healthcare professionals can
play a crucial role in spreading awareness. We urge all state governments to
mandate newborn hearing screening so that together, we can battle hearing loss
and safeguard the future of our country.”
According to WHO estimates, by
2050 over 900 million people are likely to have disabling hearing loss. Dr.
Jagdish Singh, Medical Superintendent, S. R. Goyal Govt. Hospital said, “Hearing loss can hamper growth and
learning development in a child. The initial years of a child’s life are
extremely crucial for their cognitive development. An infant’s overall
development – be it physical, intellectual, academic, social or emotional is
heavily dependent upon good hearing; and lack of it can lead to delayed mental
growth, hampered spoken language skills and social isolation. Hearing screening
can help recognize indications of hearing loss early on so adequate measures
can be taken. We have experienced the significant impact of treatment options
and hence are supporting the initiative which will ensure timely screening. We
hope that the entire state of Rajasthan adopts the UNHS program and sets an
example for other parts of the country to follow.”
Last year, Brett Lee had launched
the UNHS program at JK Lon Hospital (attached to SMS Medical College). The
program is spearheaded by Dr. Sitaraman, Head of Department, Paediatrics who
has been instrumental in spreading awareness about UNHS through the team. As a
result, every newborn at that hospital undergoes a hearing screening test.
While UNHS is widely practised in
countries like the USA, Singapore, Australia and the UK; India is yet to set up
an “all-inclusive” screening programme for newborn children.
about his involvement with the cause, Brett
Lee said, “As a part of our awareness initiatives, I have been visiting
countries all around the world and it is overwhelming to see how lives are
positively impacted. Since 2015, I have visited several cities in India (Mumbai,
New Delhi, Bangalore, Pune, Chandigarh, Kochi, Trivandrum, Kozhikode, Amritsar and
Guwahati), met many superstars and witnessed how Cochlear implants have
transformed their lives.”
Currently, Kerala is the only state
in our country to have successfully achieved 98% UNHS success across government
hospitals. The Kerala Social Security Mission has developed a software for
collecting real time data of newborns who have undergone screening. This data
is archived and used by institutions such as District Early Intervention
Centres (DEICs) and medical colleges during regular follow-ups and enabling
them to provide advanced services to affected children and their families.