A recent report published on International Ear Care Day shows that any of the countries who responded to a new World Health Organization (WHO) survey lack the capacity to prevent and care for hearing loss.

WHO estimates that over 5 per cent of the world’s population – 360 million people – has disabling hearing loss The highest prevalence is found in the Asia Pacific, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. About half of all cases of hearing loss worldwide are easily prevented or treated.

A leading cause for hearing loss in younger ages, particularly in low- and middle-income countries, is untreated ear infections, which often presents with discharge from the ear.  Vaccine-preventable infectious diseases such as rubella, meningitis, measles, or mumps can also lead to hearing loss.

Just 32 of the 76 countries who responded have developed plans and programme to prevent and control ear diseases and hearing loss. According to the report, many lack trained health personnel, educational facilities, data and national plans to address the needs of those living with ear and hearing problems. The information received also indicates that the gap between need and services is greatest in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The results of this survey are a clear call to action for governments and partners to invest in hearing care especially at community and primary level,” says Dr Etienne Krug, Director of the WHO Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability.

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