Cochlear applauds WHO hearing health action plan for prevention of deafness and hearing loss globally

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


  1. World Health Organization. Factsheet No*300 [Internet]. 2017 [cited February 2017]. Available from:
  2. WHO Childhood hearing loss: act now, here is how! 2016 [cited 10 May 2017]. Available from:

Cochlear participates at the Osseo Congress

At its sixth edition in 2017, Osseo, the International Congress on Bone Conduction Hearing and Related Technologies, brings together surgeons, audiologists, industry specialists, researchers, and academics within the field of bone conduction.

Cochlear’s unique implant and sound processor technology, and the clinical studies that attest it, as well as new products are some of the topics that will be discussed in the four-day event that sees participation from all over the world. A special focus this year is on the clinical evidence supporting the benefits of Cochlear’s Baha® 5 System, the most complete osseointegrated hearing solution on the market. The clinical evidence will present the proven benefits of Cochlear’s Baha® Attract System, and Baha Connect® System, in terms of hearing performance, aesthetics, and reliability.

A platinum sponsor and one of the founders of the event, Cochlear participates at the Osseo congress as not only an industry leader, but also an industry creator. A special satellite symposium dedicated to its 40 years of innovation will provide a compelling insight into bone conduction hearing, and the latest technologies that have the opportunity to further improve hearing outcomes for people with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss and SSD Osseo takes place 17 – 20 May 2017 in Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Nijmegen is home to one of the first centres in the world to use the Brånemark’s method – the bone conduction hearing implant, in 1987, ten years after Mona Andersson became the world’s first recipient of a bone conduction implant. Anders Tjellström, the pioneer of the bone conduction implant surgery, and the surgeon who performed the first implant, is one of the honorary guests at Osseo 2017.

We will return with updates after the congress.

May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

An annual event that has taken place in the US every May since 1927, “May is Better Hearing and Speech Month” was started to raise public awareness, knowledge and understanding of various forms of communication impairments including hearing and speech.

Hearing loss is one of the world’s most spread epidemics, affecting more than 360 million people, in all stages of their lives. A staggering 32 million of these are children, and in about 60% of these cases, hearing loss is preventable. However, hearing impairment remains widely unaddressed, either due to embarrassment or lack of awareness.

Therefore, educating people on the matter and understanding the need for action is extremely important in order to not only prevent, but treat, a disability that can have negative effects on those affected and the ones around them. Hearing loss is linked to depression, social isolation, reduced job performance, and impaired memory, among a wide array of effects.

With hearing loss becoming more common as younger people lose hearing due to noise exposure and baby boomers age, Better Hearing and Speech Month has become even more important as a means of reaching those reluctant to have their hearing tested.

The Million Ear Challenge

Every May, Cochlear, volunteers, and clinic partners join the nationwide awareness program to help spread the word about hearing loss and hearing loss solutions through the Million Ear Challenge, a social media event that aims at reaching two million people in 31 days. The Million Ear Challenge informs the public about hearing loss and encourages people to engage in this joint effort to support the Better Hearing and Speech Month.

When two million people are reached, Cochlear will make a donation to Hearing Charities of America and the Cochlear Implant Awareness Foundation to help support people with hearing loss.

Want to join the Million Ear Challenge? Find out how you can get involved.


World Health Day: Depression Tops List of Most Widespread Diseases

The latest estimates reveal that more than 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression, a figure that has increased by 18 percent from 2005 to 2015. Hearing loss is closely tied to depression, studies confirm.


Today is the World Health Day, the high point in World Health Organization ‘s (WHO) year-long campaign “Depression: Let’s Talk”. Depression is a silent and hidden condition, that can affect anyone. The subtle signs of the disease can easily pass unnoticed, leading to low levels of recognition and access to treatment. In many cases, once the disorder is acknowledged, stigma can be so damaging that sufferers refuse to seek help. WHO warns that untreated depression results in a global economic loss of a trillion US dollars every year, and prompts international governments to allocate more funds to mental health.

Depression is a mental condition characterised by persistent sadness, critically reduced capacity to carry out daily activities, and a feeling of emptiness.

Hearing loss is connected to depression

Unsurprisingly, many studies have confirmed the link between hearing loss and depression. The percentage of depressed adults, particularly women, increases with the decline in hearing, from 5% in those without hearing problems to a staggering 11% in those with hearing impairment, according to a 2014 study published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery.

In many of our previous blog posts, the recipients of a bone conduction hearing implant mention social isolation as one of the tolls hearing loss took on them. Mona Andersson, the world’s first recipient of a bone conduction implant, recalls her mental discomfort as her hearing capacity declined in her teen years.

“I felt embarrassed and I would choose to hide myself”, says Mona in an interview with Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Like depression, hearing loss is a silent condition that affects more than 360 million people worldwide – over 5% of the world’s population, warns WHO. Depression, social exclusion, and lower chances of employment are possible effects of disabling hearing loss.

Take the signs of hearing loss seriously

The US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recommends people who answer “yes” to more than two of the questions listed below to visit an audiologist.

  • Do you have a problem hearing over the telephone?
  • Do you have trouble following the conversation when two or more people are talking at the same time?
  • Do people complain that you turn the volume of the radio or television up too high?
  • Do you have to strain to understand conversation?
  • Do you have trouble hearing in a noisy background?
  • Do you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves?
  • Do many people you talk to seem to mumble or not speak clearly?
  • Do you misunderstand what others are saying and respond inappropriately?
  • Do you have trouble understanding the speech of women and children?
  • Do people get annoyed because you misunderstand what they say?

Congratulations to the recipients of Graeme Clark and Anders Tjellström scholarships

The eight winners of Cochlear’s prestigious scholarships have been honored on February 19 at Cochlear Celebration, the biggest event dedicated to recipients from across the U.S. and Canada.2017scholarshipwinners_400

The 15th annual Graeme Clark and the sixth annual Anders Tjellström scholarships recognize values like leadership, humanity and academic achievement in students who are Cochlear™ Nucleus® Implant and Baha® System recipients. Each of the eight students will receive $2,000 per year for up to four years at an accredited college or university, for a total of $8,000 per student. Since 2002, Cochlear has awarded $568,000 to 80 college students.

The scholarships are named after Graeme Clark, the pioneer of the multichannel cochlea implant, and Anders Tjellström, surgeon and the founding father of the Baha treatment. The Graeme Clark scholarship is an award open to Nucleus Cochlear Implant recipients around the world. The Anders Tjellström Scholarship is an award open to Baha system recipients in the United States and Canada.

“I have become a much more outgoing and confident person because of the Baha System. It has inspired and motivated me to strive for success,” said Moran, a Baha System recipient and an Anders Tjellström Scholarship winner. “My success will be becoming an audiologist and helping others hear the world.”

The 2017 Graeme Clark Scholarship has been awarded to:

  • Victoria Popov (Rochester Institute of Technology) from Del Mar, California
  • Shani Summers (Brigham Young University) from Kailua, Hawaii
  • Jessica Hill (University of Alabama at Birmingham) from Madison, Alabama
  • Mary Jane Rogers (University of Missouri) from Olivette, Missouri
  • Miriam Almanza (University of the Incarnate Word) from Mercedes, Texas

The 2017 Anders Tjellström Scholarship goes to:

  • Abigail Rose Brewer (Liberty University) from Goode, Virginia
  • Caroline Moran (Nova Southeastern University) from Alderson, West Virginia
  • Johanna H. Urbach (Western Washington University) from Fairfield, California

For more information about the scholarships, visit

The world’s first recipient of a bone conduction implant celebrates 40 years of hearing

News from Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions

Mona Andersson had suffered from hearing loss for more than 30 years before she could hear again. In 1977, thanks to a medical innovation developed in Gothenburg, her hearing capacity was dramatically improved. Today, forty years later, 150, 000 people have regained their hearing with a bone conduction implant.

img_3561(Photo: Anders Tjellström and Mona Andersson)

Hearing loss is a major public health issue and its impact is set to increase. More than 360 million people live with disabling hearing loss and this figure is set to increase significantly. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there will be 1.2 billion people living with disabling hearing loss in 2050. Every year on March 3, WHO celebrates the World Hearing Day, an advocacy event that calls for international action to address hearing loss. This year’s event campaign “Make a sound investment” reveals that unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy a staggering $750 billion annually.

In Sweden alone, about 1.4 million people suffer from hearing impairment, of which 700, 000 need to use hearing aids, according to Hörselskadades Riksförbund, the National Association for Hearing Impairment in Sweden.

Forty years ago, an innovation from Gothenburg created a new industry that was set to restore hearing in many people affected by hearing impairment. Gothenburg resident Mona Andersson was one of those people.

The innovation is based on the concept of osseointegration, a process discovered and coined by Professor Per-Ingvar Brånemark, when in Gothenburg in the 1960s, he serendipitously discovered that titanium completely fused with bone. The discovery of osseointegration led to the development of the bone conduction hearing implant, pioneered by Anders Tjellström, surgeon and Senior Lecturer at Gothenburg University and member of Brånemark’s research team, in collaboration with Bo Håkansson, Professor at Chalmers Institute.

Already in early childhood, Mona was suffering from bilateral chronic ear infections, caused by scarlet fever. Her natural capacity to hear had dropped dramatically and it was not long before she had serious problems with her hearing. At the age of 15, Mona received her first hearing aid, which improved her hearing slightly, at the cost of constant headaches and embarrassment. When she started working at a plastic factory, she realised that exposure to warm temperatures affected her hearing even more.

She reached a turning point in 1965 when she became a mother.

“I struggled to communicate with my daughter in the first years of her life. I had nothing to lose when I accepted Dr. Tjellström’s proposal to receive a bone conduction implant”, says Mona.

In 1977, Mona underwent the world’s first bone conduction implant surgery, performed by Dr Anders Tjellström at Sahlgrenska University Hospital. The implant was specifically designed for patients affected by conductive hearing loss, like Mona. Today its application has increased to treat other types of hearing loss.

“For the first time since childhood I could hear birds singing”, she told Dr. Tjellström when she received her implant. Sounds like the buzz of a fly or ice cubes clinking in a glass, suddenly became new experiences for her.

Forty years after the surgery, Mona celebrates not only functional hearing, but hearing capacity that has gone beyond what most “normal hearing” people can experience. The latest technology, developed in Gothenburg by Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, allows the recipients of a bone conduction implant to stream sound from their phones directly to their ears.

“Bone conduction technology has come a long way. Today, Mona is using a sound processor that has the capacity to adapt to different noise environments, something we had never imagined possible all those years ago”, explains Dr. Tjellström.

More than 150, 000 people worldwide benefit from Gothenburg invention

The bone conduction implant system was approved in Sweden ten years after Mona received her implant. In 1993, the Gothenburg-based Nobel Pharma, whose bone conduction business later became Entific, started commercializing the product. In 2005, international hearing implant manufacturer Cochlear Ltd bought Entific and named it Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions, based in Mölnlycke. Today, more than 150, 000 people hear thanks to a bone conduction implant.

“We created the world’s smallest sound processor that is also the first ever to connect wirelessly to electronic devices, allowing users to stream sound directly to the ear. Gothenburg is a unique centre of innovation, where we can benefit from all the expertise, technology, and research of the region, helping us to constantly evolve our industry”, says Rom Mendel, President Acoustics & Managing Director at Cochlear Bone Anchored Solutions.

Most hearing specialists agree that bone conduction hearing systems are an effective solution for patients with conductive hearing loss, mixed hearing loss or single-sided deafness.

Cochlear Celebration is happening

Cochlear Celebration, one of the most awaited events for recipients and their families, has started. More than a thousand participants are expected to attend.

Taking place February 16-19 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Florida, Celebration is an event dedicated to Cochlear Family members from all across America. Every other year, recipients, their families and hearing experts get together to share success stories and create new friendships.

(Video: Cochlear Celebration 2015)

“The thing I love most about my job is our solid commitment to standing by our recipients in their hearing journey. It is a tremendous honor for me to meet so many of them in one place and I feel very privileged”, says Adi Nilson, Director of Marketing at Cochlear.

The event includes educational sessions on the latest hearing technology and ways to maximize the hearing experience, as well as private parties and a wide range of entertainment activities.

“I am looking forward to listening to personal experiences, and understanding how we can further develop our products”, says Johan Land, Senior Product Manager at Cochlear.

For more information on Celebration, visit the Cochlear Celebration 2017.