June 2018 Daily Pioneer
It was earth-shattering for Asha Pundir, a mother of two, when she found out that her younger son, Aditya Pundir was born with hearing impairment. They showed him to an ENT specialist who told her that four out 1,000 children are born deaf in India. After consulting with the doctors, Aditya got Cochlear’s advance hearing implant installed in his ears and since then he is able to hear clearly and lead a normal life. “Cochlear’s implantation has given my children the freedom to dream what they want to be when they grow,” Pundir says. Aditya shares that he loves playing guitar and listening to Ed Sheeran’s songs, while another recipient Aditya Srivastava, a cinemophile, says how he used to watch silent movies earlier but now, after getting the implant done has no restrictions while enjoying his favourite movies.
To raise awareness about Universal New-born Hearing Screening (UNHS) and urge the Government to mandate this screening, Cochlear’s Global Hearing Ambassador, cricketer Brett Lee was recently at the UNHS at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital (SGRH). Leading surgeons and experts Dr Shalabh Sharma, ENT consultant Surgeon, SGRH) and Asha Agarwal, Cochlear implant consultant also joined him to talk about hearing related issues. Lee said: “Now that we have the implanting devices, some amazing surgeons and clinicians who are doing great job, there is a need for awareness, we need people on the streets to understand that when a child is born, he has to get the screening test done which is the most important thing because this can help in early detection of the issue.”
Many countries, especially the developed ones, have UNHS mandatory. Even in India, a lot of hospitals have started doing this test, Cochlear itself has been doing this test for the past 12 years, and Cochlear’s main aim is to make the UNHS test universal in India, as well. Kerala was the first State in the country to provide hearing screening for children in the 66 Government maternity centres. The Kerala Social Security Mission developed a software to keep a record of real-time data of the new-born screened and share 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.
Keeping in mind India’s love for cricket, Cochlear is spearheading awareness about the issue by using a campaign ‘Sounds of Cricket’ the campaign focuses on sounds of the little things in cricket that normal people would take for granted. “I want to use this platform to draw attention to the growing incidence of profound hearing loss, because I strongly believe that everybody deserves to hear the sounds of life. I am very proud to raise awareness about the critical issue that impacts millions of lives. We should attempt to make UNHS mandatory nationwide,” Lee said. Cochlear has covered cities like Banglore, Pune, Kochin, Chandigarh, Trivandrum, Guwahati and Amritsar over the last three years and is leaving no stone unturned in an effort to make India a part of the list of countries that have UNHS mandatory for newborns.