The World Hearing Day (held annually on 3rd March), formerly known as International Ear Care Day, is a global initiative championed by the World Health Organization (WHO). This day was established in 2007 to promote global actions on hearing care and minimizing occurrence of hearing impairment. This date was selected due to the shape of the numbers 3.3, being representative of the two ears.
World Hearing Day 2017: 3rd March 2017
Theme: Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment.
The day aims to raise awareness and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The theme for World Hearing Day 2017 is ‘Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment’. This theme draws attention to the economic impact of hearing loss and the cost effectiveness of interventions to address it.
Unaddressed hearing loss poses a high cost for the economy globally and has a significant impact on the lives of those affected. Interventions to address hearing loss are available and are cost-effective.
Prevention, screening for early identification, rehabilitation through hearing devices, captioning and sign language education are among the strategies which can mitigate hearing loss and its consequences. World Hearing Day 2017 highlights actions which can be undertaken by decision-makers to address hearing loss.
WHO estimate that unaddressed hearing loss cost $750 billion a year globally, this is equivalent to the combined annual health expenditure of Brazil and China or the GDP of the Netherlands. Quite frighteningly, they estimate the societal cost as a result of social isolation, communication difficulties and stigma to be more than half a trillion dollars!!!
To minimize this cost, WHO recommends that policy makers:
- Allocate suitable resources to deal with hearing loss
- Integrating ear and hearing care into the health system
- Building human resource capacity
- Implementing early identification and intervention programmes
- Increasing awareness among all sectors of society
The benefits of treating hearing loss are immense, not just personally for the person with a hearing impairment, but the family and friends around them. As a community, WHO asserts that interventions to address hearing loss will result in:
- Financial savings and significant return on investment
- Increased access to education
- Greater employability and earnings which benefits the economy
- Lower costs related to depression and cognitive decline and
- A more integrated society.