Ear and hearing care for all! Let’s make it a reality


Each year on 3 March, WHO marks World Hearing Day to raise awareness of hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care. The 2023 edition will highlight the importance of integrating ear and hearing care within primary care as an essential component of universal health coverage. 

Scaling up early identification and prevention of hearing loss 

Over 190 million people in the WHO European Region live with some degree of hearing loss. This figure is projected to rise to over 230 million by 2050. Ear and hearing problems are among the most common health issues, and 60% of them can be identified
and addressed at the primary level of care. 

Addressing hearing loss can have a positive impact on many aspects of an individual’s life, leading to successful communication and interpersonal relationships; speech, language and cognitive development in children; healthy ageing; education
and employment opportunities; and good mental health and well-being. 

Hearing loss is expensive for communities, costing the Region around 225 billion US dollars annually. Fortunately, most cases can be addressed through cost-effective public health interventions. Integrating ear and hearing care into primary care services
is an important step towards addressing preventable hearing loss and reducing the burden associated with untreated hearing loss. 

In children, almost 60% of hearing loss occurs due to causes that can be prevented through immunization and improved maternal and neonatal care. In adults, legislation on noise control and safe listening, as well as surveillance of ototoxicity (damage
to the hearing system resulting from medicines and chemicals), can reduce the potential for hearing loss. Regular screenings ensure that ear diseases and hearing problems are identified at the earliest possible stage. 

Inclusive solutions for people who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing 

Innovative, cost-effective solutions can improve quality of life for people with hearing loss. Millions of adults and children use hearing aids and cochlear implants. Combining the power of technology with accessible environments and inclusive public
health strategies can ensure that these benefits reach everyone who needs them, especially those living in underserved and remote areas.

It is essential that the provision of assistive technology is accompanied by appropriate support services and a person-centred approach. For those who are d/Deaf or hard of hearing, sign languages, subtitles and closed captioning are also valuable
options that can further improve their participation in society.

Primary ear and hearing care training manual and screening app 

To further promote ear and hearing care, WHO will mark World Hearing Day 2023 with the launch of its new primary ear and hearing care training manual. Intended for primary care health workers, the manual offers a practical guide to the prevention,
identification and management of hearing loss and common ear diseases that may lead to it. 

Everyone should check their hearing from time to time, and especially people who are frequently exposed to loud noise or music, older adults, and those exposed to medicines and chemicals that can damage the hearing system. In order to facilitate easy
hearing checks, WHO has developed hearWHO, a free mobile and web-based software app for hearing screening. It can be used by individuals at home, as well as by health workers to screen people for hearing loss and refer them for diagnostic testing.



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