News from Cochlear
On May 31, The World Health Assembly (WHA) has supported a resolution that provides a hearing health policy action plan and recognises the benefits of prevention, intervention and treatment of hearing loss globally. The WHA is the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO), and includes senior health leaders from 192 member nations. The resolution reinforces that hearing loss is a significant public health issue, requiring every government to make it a higher priority and develop a national action plan to address it.
The WHO estimates that over 360 million people — over 5 per cent of the world’s population — live with disabling hearing loss, 32 million of whom are children.1 With prevalence rates rising, the global cost of unaddressed hearing loss has recently been estimated at $750 billion per year.1
The WHA resolution outlines practical, cost effective steps, starting with awareness, hearing screening programs at key stages of life, and making assistive hearing technologies, such cochlear implants, more accessible to those who need them.
The resolution sets out a number of critical steps for addressing the impact of deafness and hearing loss, including:
- Raised awareness among decision-makers and the general public about the high prevalence of hearing loss and its social and economic impact
- Improved access to affordable, high-quality assistive hearing technologies and products, including hearing aids and cochlear implants, as part of universal health coverage
- Enhanced screening programmes to identify and diagnose ear disease and hearing loss early, with attention placed on infants, young children and older adults
- Raised awareness of noise-induced hearing loss and implementation of measures that address occupational, environmental and recreational exposure to noise
- Better data collection on ear disease and hearing loss to educate and inform policy decision-makers to develop evidence-based strategies
Many of the causes of hearing loss can be avoided through public health measures; it is estimated that 60 per cent of hearing loss in children can be prevented. This figure is higher (75 per cent) in low and middle-income countries than in high-income countries (49 per cent).2
- World Health Organization. Factsheet No*300 [Internet]. 2017 [cited February 2017]. Available from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/
- WHO Childhood hearing loss: act now, here is how! 2016 [cited 10 May 2017]. Available from: http://www.who.int/pbd/deafness/world-hearing-day/2016/en/