KOCHI: Australian cricket legend Brett Lee commended the steps initiated by Kerala to regularise screening test to detect hearing loss among newborns. Brett Lee, who is the global hearing ambassador of ‘Cochlear’, a leading implantable hearing solution, was in Kochi as part of a hearing campaign on Saturday.
He said Kerala is a World Cup-winning team when it comes to initiatives taken for detecting hearing loss among children. “I came to know that around 95 per cent of government hospitals in Kerala has Auditory Brainstem Response testing facility to screen newborns. It is also the first state in India to provide hearing screening in all government centres,” he said.
“There are 61 delivery points in the state’s government maternity centre. Other states should consider Kerala as a role model and regularise screening so that no child will have to live in silence,” Brett Lee said.
He said awareness among parents to screen the hearing ability of their newborns are crucial. “Unlike other disabilities, hearing loss can be detected late. Early detection is very crucial in hearing loss. It is a disability, which can be corrected to a great extent if detected at the right time. Parents need to be sensitised that they take necessary steps to prevent their children from permanent silence,” he said.
Dr Sanchidananda Kamath, former president of Central Indian Academy of Paediatrics, said the Kochi branch of the academy was first in India to start a comprehensive hearing screening programme in 2003. As part of ‘Hearing Friendly Ernakulam District’ programme, as many as 1,70,168 newborns were screened and 4,009 were detected with hearing problems, till April 2019. “These babies were referred for confirmatory tests and remedial measures. The academy is planning to expand the programme to other districts in the state,” he said. “As per a recent survey, 13,500 newborns were detected with hearing problems in the state. Parents in north Kerala still hesitate to carry out the screening test,” said Dr Manoj Manikoth, senior ENT consultant and cochlear implant surgeon.
Brett Lee also met Rizhwana PA, an MBBS student, who was born with hearing disability and had undergone cochlear implant surgery.