The first-ever World Report on Hearing was launched on World Hearing Day 2021 on March 3, presenting a global call for action to address hearing loss and ear diseases, and integrate ear care into health systems.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one in five people worldwide currently live with hearing loss. Without effective intervention, by 2050, nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have problems with their hearing, at least 700 million of whom will require rehabilitation services.
Drawn up in direct response to the 2017 World Health Assembly resolution on the prevention of deafness and hearing loss (WHA70.13), the four-section report summarizes the current status and extent of ear and hearing problems, the causative and preventive factors of hearing loss, and cost-effective clinical and public health solutions
Rehabilitation International (RI), a global organization and network that empowers people with disabilities, contributed to the publication of the report.
Zhang Haidi, president of RI, called on governments of all countries to prioritize ear and hearing care and highlighted the importance of ear disease prevention and rehabilitation services, in her address at the report launch ceremony.
Zhang, who is also the chairperson of the China Disabled Persons’ Federation (CDPF), shared the great progress China has made in hearing loss prevention and rehabilitation.
“We have been promoting better rehabilitation services for people with hearing loss, especially children, and creating conditions for them to integrate into society,” Zhang said.
“A series of rehabilitation programs have been carried out such as hearing and speech training for hearing impaired children and free cochlear implants for poor children with hearing loss,” Zhang said.
Zhang also advocated for international exchanges and collaboration on providing ear and hearing care. She stressed that hearing health matters to all people around the world, and global efforts are needed to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and implement the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
“All countries must act to ensure universal access to health services including ear and hearing care, so as to reach the 2030 milestone target to increase coverage of ear and hearing care services by 20% worldwide,” Ren said.
“The number of people living with unaddressed hearing loss and ear diseases is unacceptable,” Shao said. “Countries must act to integrate people-centered ear and hearing care within national health plans for universal health coverage.”
In a testimonial to the report, Zhang Haidi said that the report “shines a strong light on the needs of the nearly 450 million people that need rehabilitation services for their disabling hearing loss.”
“It (the report) also provides great insights into how the services can be developed in an equitable manner across the world,” Zhang said.
“On behalf of Rehabilitation International, I appreciate the WHO’s ongoing commitment to this hidden disability, and we are proud to be contributors to this important report.”
Zhang stressed that Rehabilitation International is fully committed to working together with the World Health Organization in this worthy endeavor.
RI Health and Function Commission have been working closely work with WHO on the World Report on Hearing. Acknowledgement goes to Yueqin Huang, the Chair of RI Health and Function Commission, for her work and coordination over this important project.