The theme for the World Hearing Day 2017 is ‘Action for hearing loss: make a sound investment’. This aims to draw attention to the economic impact of hearing loss and cost effectiveness of interventions to address it.
Unaddressed hearing loss poses a high cost for the economy globally, with an estimated annual cost of $750Billion annually – 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.
Recommended Actions for addressing hearing loss by Decision-makers can be:
- Allocating suitable resources
- Integrating ear and hearing care into health systems
- Building human resource capacity
- Implementing early identification and intervention programmes
- Increasing awareness among all sectors of society
Annually, unaddressed significant hearing loss results in:
- Health care system cost, other than the cost of hearing devices
- Loss of productivity, due to unemployment and premature retirement
- Societal cost, as a result of social isolation, communication difficulties and stigma
- Cost of additional educational support to children with hearing loss aged 5–14 years
Action is cost-effective – Evidence shows that it is cost effective to Prevent hearing loss by Protecting against loud sounds and Identifying and treating otitis media (ear infections). It is also important to Identify hearing loss early through screening of newborns, school children and adults above 50 years
Providing rehabilitation together with support for continuous use of hearing aids and Improved access to cochlear implants is beneficial. Captioning and sign language interpretation are also effective in making information accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people.
It is well documented, that Actions will benefit Societies and countries alike with 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 an integrated society.
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