World Hearing Day

Globally it is estimated that over 5% of the world’s population i.e around 466 million people – have disabling hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). Unaddressed hearing loss is the leading cause of morbidity and poses an annual cost of $750 billion globally. It is estimated that by 2050 over 900 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss, due to changing population demographics, increasing exposure to risk factors such as recreational noise, as well as the persistence of untreated ear conditions such as otitis media.

Many of the causes that lead to hearing loss are preventable. In children, 60% of hearing loss can be prevented through public health strategies. Those who have hearing loss can greatly benefit from timely and appropriate interventions.

In order to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care (EHC) at national and community levels across the world, WHO observes World Hearing Day on 3rd March of every year. 3rd March is selected as 3.3 resemble the shape of the two ears.

Hearing care and hearing loss were highlighted as a public health issue with the adoption of the resolution (WHA70.13) on the prevention of deafness and hearing loss during the World Health Assembly in 2017. This resolution calls upon WHO and its Member States to undertake advocacy through World Hearing Day on 3 March.

What is World Health Day trying to achieve?

World Hearing Day is the largest global awareness campaign on the ear and hearing care that calls for action to address hearing loss. It is the ideal opportunity to spread the word and raise the profile of ear and hearing care in people’s minds, in the world’s media, and on the global health agenda.

World Hearing Day aims to:

  • Promote public health actions for ear and hearing care.
  • Stimulate intersectoral partnership for ear and hearing care.
  • Raise awareness of hearing loss and care at national and community levels across the world.
  • Encourage behavior change towards healthy EHC practices.

Hearing Day Themes and Materials

Each year, WHO develops a theme, key messages and information materials (like posters, banners, infographics, social media assets, promotional materials like T-shirts, caps, etc.) which are then shared widely through WHO’s regional and country offices and their partners. The materials are made available in the six UN languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Spanish, and Russian). Partner organizations across the world use and often adapt these resources to undertake activities on and around the day.

Themes for WHO World hearing day

  • 2019: Check your hearing!
  • 2018: Hear the future
  • 2017: Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment
  • 2016: Childhood hearing loss: act now, here is how!
  • 2015: Make Listening Safe
  • 2014: Ear care can avoid hearing loss
  • 2013: Healthy Hearing, Happy Life- Hearing Health care for Ageing People

2019 World hearing day

The theme for 2019, is “Check your hearing!”. This year WHO wants to draw attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss.

The key messages for the 2019 event include:

  • All people should check their hearing from time to time, especially those who are at a higher risk of hearing loss such as adults above 50 years, those working in noisy places, those listening to music at high volumes for long periods of time and those experiencing ear problems.
  • Services for early identification and intervention should be made available through the health system.

For this WHO has launched a free app “hearWHO” on 3rd March of 2019, which allows people to check their hearing. The HearWHO app will be used to:

  • Raise awareness about the importance of hearing
  • Encourage people to check their hearing regularly and practice safe listening
  • Allow health workers to check the hearing status of people in their communities

References

  1. https://www.who.int/deafness/world-hearing-day/en/
  2. https://www.who.int/deafness/world-hearing-day/2019/en/

Meet the author

Dr Sanu P Moideen is an Indian-born oto-rhino-laryngologist (ENT) based in Cochin, Kerala, India. He is currently working as Post-Doctoral Fellow in Head and Neck Oncology at Regional Cancer Center, Trivandrum, Kerala.

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