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Ganga Ram initiative for awareness on hearing health

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Experts from Sir Ganga Ram Hospital come together to spread awareness on hearing loss on occasion of World Hearing Day, March 3rd.

The ENT Dept. of Sir Ganga Ram Hospital along with Asha Speech & Hearing Clinic, New Delhi to raise awareness about the significant functional, social, emotional and economic impact of hearing impairment on individuals and their families on the occasion of World Hearing Day.

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 Key opinion leaders from the city – Dr. Shalabh Sharma, (Cochlear Implant Surgeon, ENT Department, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi) and Asha Agarwal (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi) got together to escalate conversations on the current hearing health situation in Delhi.

Speaking at the briefing Dr AK Lahiri said, “Today, hearing loss has become a huge global public health issue. I wish to use this platform to say that everyone deserves to enjoy the sounds of everyday life. I want to help make sure, that anyone who is living in this world can experience the sounds of joy, to hear the voices of loved ones, family and friends. Parents and family members should not ignore the smallest signs of hearing loss and should take speedy action. I have personally witnessed how a cochlear implant takes a person from silence to sound. It is a life changing moment. Many developed countries conduct hearing screening for every newborn and India too should look at mandating Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS).”

Though many causes of hearing loss are preventable, global prevalence is on the rise. Around 360 million people worldwide suffer from disabling hearing loss. As per the 2011 census, India has more than 50 lakh citizens who suffer from some form of hearing loss.Around 5 per cent of the world’s population is disabled by hearing loss.Despite these shocking numbers, most people are unaware of the advanced treatment options available.

Speaking at the briefing, Dr. Shalabh Sharma, (Cochlear Implant Consultant, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi) said,“Hearing loss is often treated as a low profile disability as it cannot be seen. A devastating 27,000 plus children are born deaf in India every year, which delays development of speech, language and cognition. This hampers the child’s education, career and entire life. However, Universal Newborn Hearing Screening (UNHS) can identify any sign of hearing impairment, and early detection makes treatment a possibility. Medical technology has given birth to a great innovation that can now restore one’s hearing ability and can totally transform the life of the recipient. This helps providing treatment at an early stage, thereby reducing the trauma of hearing loss.”

A large population of hearing impaired young Indians amounts to a severe loss of productivity, both physical and economic. Many more people are considered at risk of developing disabling hearing loss from loud noise, infections, disease and age-related degeneration.Unaddressed hearing loss poses a high cost for theeconomy globally.Although some hospitals voluntarily recommend newborn screening to detect any form of hearing impairment; responsiveness yet remains near to the ground.

Highlighting the importance of awareness and screening, Mrs. Asha Agarwal (Audiologist and Speech Pathologist, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, New Delhi) said, “In the absence of a screening programme, parents are still dependent to identify hearing loss in children through language learning and comprehension over a period of time. Such delays cost children up to 24 months of precious time of cognitive development. Timely identification and treatment of hearing loss is imperative. Adequate assistance acquired at an early stage helps the child develop good verbal language skills and gives them the opportunity to become part of mainstream society.”

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