World Hearing Day 2024

In News by ALDA News

Edited from a submission by Andrea Kaneb

Sunday, March 3 marked “World Hearing Day,” an opportune moment to appreciate our access to hearing health services and to reflect on the global impact of hearing loss. This worldwide campaign, spearheaded by the World Health Organization (WHO), centers this year on changing mindsets. The WHO is dedicated to dismantling the barriers created by social misconceptions and stigma through education and outreach.

Around the world, the demand for ear and hearing care greatly exceeds the available services, with more than 80% of such needs going unmet. While many of us know how debilitating it is to wait several weeks or travel long distances for hearing healthcare, it’s important to recognize that our access is often significantly better than what is available to others.

The World Health Organization has calculated that the global economic burden of untreated hearing loss amounts to approximately $980 billion annually. This figure encompasses the economic impact resulting from reduced work productivity and the societal costs associated with social isolation, due to limited access to rehabilitative services for hearing loss.

Deeply ingrained societal misperceptions and stigmatizing mindsets are key factors that limit efforts for preventing and addressing hearing loss.

Change these mindsets:

  • Myth: Hearing Loss Only Affects the Elderly
    Fact:. Approximately 15% of middle-aged adults (41 to 60 Years) experience some form of hearing loss, often beginning with difficulty hearing in noisy environments.
  • Myth: Hearing Loss is Inevitable
    Fact: WHO estimates over 1.1 billion young people (aged between 12-35 years) are at risk of hearing loss due to exposure to noise in recreational settings and that around 60% of childhood hearing loss is preventable by giving attention to reducing infections, exposure to loud noises, ototoxic medications and chemicals, or poor perinatal care.
  • Myth: Hearing Aids Don’t Work Well
    Fact: recognize their limitations in challenging listening environments like noise, distance, and reverberation, where performance may not meet expectations, influenced by the nature and severity of hearing loss. They are an investment in a better quality of life, improving communication, social engagement, independence, better mental health, heightened safety, and enhanced work performance.

The WHO’s initiative to change societal mindsets is a commendable step toward increasing awareness and accessibility to ear and hearing care for all. By spreading factual information, we can collectively work towards a world where the stigma surrounding hearing loss is eradicated, and preventive measures are widely recognized and implemented. The economic, social, and personal costs of untreated hearing loss underscore the urgency of expanding access to care and improving the quality of life for those affected.  We share a responsibility to advocate for better hearing health services globally and to support those in our communities facing hearing challenges. Together, we can make a difference ensuring that hearing care becomes a priority in public health agendas around the world.