Health Vision

UNHS should be a health priority: Brett Lee

Cricketing legend Brett Lee appeals to the government to make new-born hearing screening mandatory

Bengaluru: Former Australian cricket legend Brett Lee was in Bengaluru, taking aim at his new favourite target: the lack of awareness about hearing loss. Brett Lee, Global Hearing Ambassador for Cochlear, the hearing implant maker, has been on this campaign for four years, to raise awareness about hearing loss and its emotional and social impact on individuals, particularly on children.

Brett Lee appealed to the government to mandate UNHS (this has been the core of his campaign for the last four years) spread greater awareness about hearing health. Parents of children with significant hearing loss could intervene early, and the children could go to regular schools and lead normal lives.

Speaking to journalists at the Press Club, Bangalore, Brett Lee said, “Hearing impairment is the second most common disability in India; yet most people aren’t even aware of it,” he said. “Infants are not screened for hearing ability (or loss) as a matter of practice, compared to developed countries, where universal new-born hearing screening (UNHS) is mandatory.”

Earlier in the day, Brett was at the Command Hospital (Airforce) to witness two new-born infants being tested for hearing part of the UNHS process. He was given a tour of the Command Hospital’s facilities, in particular those for new-born hearing screening for infants.

Air Vice Marshal Rakesh Kumar Ranyal, Commandant of the Command Hospital, and Group Captain Dr Himanshu Swami, ENT surgeon and neurologist at Command Hospital, joined Brett in during his tour of the hospital. Air Vice Marshal Ranyal underscored the importance of UNHS. “Nava Shruti Tarang is one of the most successful health programmes conducted at our hospital,” he said. ”Command Hospital Air Force Bangalore (CHAFB) is one of the very few centres in the Armed Forces Medical Services (AFMS) which successfully runs a cochlear implant programme. Till date, over 135 implant surgeries have been successfully done since the inception of the Nava Shruti Tarang programme.”

Right from hearing screening of new-born infants to hearing aids, surgical management and cochlear implantation in the most severe form of hearing loss, our programme is the most comprehensive,” said Group Captain Dr. Swami in his remarks. “We have been providing the best possible standards of care.”

According to the WHO, of the more than 466 million people in the world with significant hearing loss, 34 million are children. If the right measures – such as mandating UNHS – are not undertaken, experts suggest that by 2050, over 900 million people will have profound hearing loss. Yet, most people are unaware of the advanced treatment options available.


About Cochlear Limited

Cochlear is the global leader in implantable hearing solutions. The company has a global workforce of more than 3,500 people and invests more than AUD$150 million a year in research and development. Products include hearing systems for cochlear implants, bone conduction implants and acoustic implants, which are designed to treat a range of moderate to profound types of hearing loss. Over 450,000 people of all ages, across more than 100 countries, now hear because of Cochlear.

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