Around 11 lakh individuals from Haryana suffer from different forms of hearing impairment, thereby augmenting the need for more awareness and intervention.

Both the Indian Medical Association (Karnal) and the Karnal Medical Centre have been tirelessly working towards social consciousness regarding Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) within the community of healthcare providers, government officials as well as the media.

The concept of incorporating UNHS in every hospital in India is still in its nascent phase.

Newborn hearing screening not only aids in early identification and intervention of hearing impairment of both speech and language acquisition in a child, it also empowers the child’s cognitive development.

Currently, Kerala is the first Indian state to incorporate mandatory newborn hearing screening tests in all the hospitals. In all the 61 maternity centres under the government’s supervision, hearing screeners are provided.

But not every Indian state has the same awareness of hearing impairment and its detrimental impact.

Thus, to emulate Kerala’s trailblazing success in all of India, cricket legend Brett Lee, who is also the Global Hearing Ambassador for Cochlear, has been incessantly traveling to various Indian states for more than 5 years.

This recent visit to Karnal elaborates Lee’s aspiration of communicating with every audience base through a one-to-one dialogue process. Through humour, light-hearted and inspiring conversations, Lee has been able to touch the lives of thousands of Indian kids who sustained hearing impairment in their life.

“The message syncs better in local cities. The impact is immediate, as the dialogue cuts in sharper,” Lee told The Citizen. “I ensure that the message is not lost or misunderstood due to language or accent issues. Simultaneous translation takes place for better communication,” he said.

Understanding the difficulty suffered by parents too in handling such cases, Brett Lee’s campaign makes parents’ participation necessary.

During the meeting, Lee met with Pyanshu, an MBBS student in Karnal who is also the recipient of the hearing implant. Pyanshu’s life transcended from the earlier exiting beliefs of limitation and challenge after his hearing implant and speech therapy.

“Dream big. You can be anything you want, you can achieve anything,” he told Pyanshu, who aims to become a surgeon one day. For young students like Pyanshu, hearing these words from his cricket legend is an indelible inspiration.

Speech therapy, like auditory-verbal therapy, plays a pivotal role in generating natural and efficient sound awareness in children. Language development, speech, and hearing are aided through the therapy.

Meanwhile, the effort to create awareness and remain updated with the various stories of hearing implant recipients does not end with a mere dialogue.

During the press conference including 100 special educators and physicians, Lee also interacted with Renu Bala Gupta, the mayor of Karnal to further discuss the trajectory of state-interventions and solutions.

The discussion has led to a formal proposal being sent to Manohar Lal Khattar, the CM of Haryana to make universal newborn hearing tests mandatory for the children in government hospitals.

“India has witnessed massive growth with regards to hearing awareness and early interventions but there still is a long way to go,” Lee said. In his campaign to create awareness regarding hearing impairment in India, he aims to travel to every city and state of India in the coming years.

“The idea is to spread love across India,” he said.

Currently, the response of both political stakeholders and families has actively increased through such national-level campaigns, leading to early identification and intervention.