World Hearing Day 2023
Dr Aliya Qadir
Department of Research and Development
Pakistan Institute of Rehabilitation Sciences
World Hearing Day 2023
Ear and Hearing Care for All. Let’s make it a reality!
World Hearing Day is a global campaign observed on 3rd March each year. Its prime objective is to share information and promote actions towards the prevention of hearing loss and improved hearing care. Each year World Hearing Day carries a theme, for 2023 its “Ear and hearing care for all. Let’s make it a reality!” emphasizing on the primary ear and hearing care integration into primary health care.
According to WHO, more than 1.5 billion people experience some degree of hearing loss. Of these, an estimated 430 million have hearing loss of moderate or higher severity in the better hearing ear, most of them living in low- and middle-income countries. If unaddressed, hearing loss can negatively impact many aspects of life as development of language and speech in children, communication, cognition, education, employment, mental health, and interpersonal relationships.
What is the importance of hearing across the life course? An individual’s hearing trajectory depends on the baseline capacity at birth, and the multiple risk or preventive factors encountered during the life course. Genetic and intrauterine factors affect pre-natal period, birth asphyxia and LBW are the factors that affects peri-natal stage, childhood and early adolescent factors include Otitis Media and Meningitis, while chronic diseases, otosclerosis, age related sensory neural degenerations affect adolescent and old age. Some factors affect across the life span including wax impaction, trauma to ear or head, noise/loud sounds, ototoxic medicines and chemicals, nutritional deficiencies, viral infections, and other ear conditions.
What should be done to prevent hearing loss? Many of the causes that lead to hearing loss can be avoided through public health strategies and clinical interventions implemented across the life course. Effective strategies for reducing hearing loss at different stages of the life course include:
- Good maternal and childcare practices
- Genetic counselling
- Identification and management of common ear conditions
- Occupational hearing conservation programmes for noise and chemical exposure
- Safe listening strategies for the reduction of exposure to loud sounds in recreational settings
- Rational use of medicines to prevent ototoxic hearing loss.
The way forward: A public health framework for ear and hearing care – Universal health coverage (UHC) is the key to achieving Goal 3 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG3) by 2030. Access to ear and hearing services is summarized in the term “Ear and hearing care”, which refers to a broad range of services for health promotion, prevention, identification, management, and rehabilitation, delivered through national health systems.
The scope of ear and hearing care extends beyond health systems, covering access to education and communication as well as other support required for persons with hearing loss and their families. This is achieved through multisectoral collaborative action, in line with the principles of integrated people-centred ear and hearing care (IPC-EHC).
Key public health interventions for EHC provision across the life course are summarized in the acronym “H.E.A.R.I.N.G.”:
- Hearing screening and intervention
- Ear disease prevention and management
- Access to technologies
- Rehabilitation services
- Improved communication
- Noise reduction
- Greater community engagement
The provision of IPC-EHC services requires action at all levels of the health system through:
Leadership and governance, for ensuring equitable access to EHC services at all levels of health-care service provision through policy guidance and planning; collaboration and coalition-building across sectors; regulations including their enforcement; and oversight.
Sustainable financing and social protection, so that people can access quality EHC services.
A competent, motivated, and empowered health workforce, which is essential for the effective provision of quality EHC services.
Robust health information systems that support IPC-EHC and help to determine population needs and priorities; identify gaps in health systems’ capacity; and report progress.
Equitable access to essential medical products and technologies of assured quality, safety, efficacy, and cost–effectiveness through inclusion in government lists of EHC-related diagnostic equipment, medicines, surgical equipment (for ear surgeries), hearing technologies and relevant vaccines.
World Report on Hearing – WHO – 2021