Humanitarian

Hearing Loss Solutions

vuvuzelaRecently, the potentially ear damaging noises of the new riot police siren (in North America) and the heavily blown vuvuzelas (at the World Cup Soccer) have been making the news.  Meanwhile, the World Health Organization estimates that nearly 300 million people, including 78 million children, worldwide suffer from moderate to profound hearing loss.

Far away from the sirens and vuvuzelas, the majority of people with hearing loss live in poverty stricken nations where there is a shortage in basic healthcare.  This means that hearing aids and other remedies taken for granted in the west are almost unheard of in these areas, where untreated diseases such as meningitis, measles, and chronic ear infections are among the leading causes of hearing impairment, reports HealthyHearing.com.

Girl in schoolThe World Health Organization (WHO) explains that hearing impairment places a great economic and social burden on communities and countries, as it can hinder a child’s progress in school and prevent adults from obtaining work.

Apparently the current production of hearing aids fills less than 10% of global need.  Even in developing countries, it’s estimated that fewer than 1 out of 40 people who need a hearing aid have one, according to WHO.

The good news is that half of all cases of hearing impairment are avoidable through prevention, early diagnoses and management.  Immunization, the avoidance of ototoxic drugs, and protective devices that reduce exposure to noise are among the preventative solutions suggested by the WHO.

conferencesIn an effort to plan solutions, the Coalition for Global Hearing Health (CGHH) recently held a conference from June 14-15th in Washington D.C. to raise awareness about hearing-related health policies across the globe.  The conference aimed to advocate, equip and advise hearing care professionals on the practices necessary to fight hearing loss, an ailment that is often ignored in underdeveloped countries.  As well, the attendees worked towards setting up methods for early detection as well as medical and surgical interventions.

The CGHH counts among its members humanitarian audiologists, otorhinolaryngologists, and other hearing health professionals who discussed a range of topics from the role of technology to ethics and social awareness in developing countries.

The CGHH conference is a great step towards an equitable global hearing policy, which is excellent news for millions of people in need.

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