Coinciding with the celebration of International Hearing Day, on March 3, the World Health Organization (WHO)) has released a report on the prevalence of hearing problems. The data is illustrative: 360 million people in the world (5% of the total) suffer from hearing problems; 1 in 3 people over 65 years of age suffers from hearing loss and nearly 32 million of those affected are children under 15 years of age. This report points out, however, that half of the cases can be solved easily.
According to the most recent review of available studies by WHO, the highest incidence of disabling hearing loss is seen in South Asia, Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa. In this sense, some infectious diseases such as rubella, meningitis, measles or mumps can cause hearing problems. Most of them can be prevented by vaccination.
Shelly Chadhafrom the WHO Department of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness, notes that “Approximately half of hearing loss cases can be easily prevented, and many can be treated if they are detected early and appropriate interventions are carried out, such as the placement of hearing implants.” However, current production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of global needs. Furthermore, in developing countries, the proportion of people who have hearing aids is less than 1 in every 40 who need them.
WHO urges and encourages all countries to create hearing loss prevention programs in their primary health care systems that include childhood vaccination against measles, meningitis, mumps and rubella, screening and treatment. of syphilis in pregnant women and early diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss in infants. Chadha points out the need to take action, “since if partial and total hearing loss are taken into account, the number of people affected worldwide could reach 600 million people.”