WHO: One in every 10 persons may suffer hearing loss by 2050

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says according to estimates, one in every ten people — representing over 700 million people worldwide — will have “disabling” hearing loss by 2020.

According to WHO, disabling hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 40 decibels (dB) in a better hearing ear in adults, and greater than 30 dB in the better hearing ear in children. 

The global health body, in a new report, noted that over five percent of the world’s population, representing about 466 million people, currently have disabling hearing loss.

WHO states that factors that cause hearing loss and deafness include genes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, the use of particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and aging. 

The global health body said it would work towards assisting member-states to promote integrated people-centred ear and hearing care (IPC-EHHC).

“Over 5% of the world’s population – or 430 million people – require rehabilitation to address their ‘disabling’ hearing loss (432 million adults and 34 million children). It is estimated that by 2050 over 700 million people – or one in every ten people – will have disabling hearing loss,” the report reads.

“‘Disabling’ hearing loss refers to hearing loss greater than 35 decibels (dB) in the better hearing ear. Nearly 80% of people with disabling hearing loss live in low- and middle-income countries. The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age, among those older than 60 years, over 25% are affected by disabling hearing loss. 

“In children, almost 60% of hearing loss is due to causes such as ear infections and birth complications that can be prevented through public health measures.

“Unaddressed hearing loss is expensive to communities worldwide and costs governments US$ 980 billion annually. Interventions to prevent, identify and address hearing loss are cost-effective and can bring great benefit to individuals.

“Of those who could benefit with the use of a hearing aid, only 17% actually use one. The gap is consistently high in all parts of the world, ranging from 77% to 83% across WHO regions, and from 74% to 90% across income levels.” 

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