Eight organizations have formed The European Coalition on Hearing Loss and Disability and now call for European policy-makers to help raise awareness of hearing loss.
According to the coalition, 10% of the total population (52 million people) self-report experiencing hearing loss, 73% of these consult a medical professional, but only 50% are referred to hearing care professionals.
Hearing loss is a huge problem for the health of Europe’s citizens, threatening to put huge pressure on Europe’s health and social care systems if left untreated. Innovative medical technology, such as hearing aids and hearing implants, can alleviate the burden.
Action from European policy-makers is therefore called for to help raise awareness of hearing loss, study effective forms of prevention, facilitate access to these technologies where appropriate, improve care and share the best practices amongst member states.
The coalition call upon the EU member states to:
1. Share best practices on hearing care, including preventative measures and early screening programmes to identify and diagnose hearing loss.
2. Integrate strategies for hearing care into primary health care systems which effectively address prevention and early identification.
3. Promote access to hearing devices which include cochlear implants, hearing aids and other assistive devices.
4. Remove age limits in disability support measures that prevent older persons with disabilities, such as the hearing impairment, from enjoying their rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD);
5. Promote effective initiatives to improve access to information for persons with disabilities with respect to public facilities, public buildings and audio-visual media services.
6. Ensure education and recognition for hearing care professionals in their country.
The coalition call upon The European Commission and the Council:
1. To take the lead in ensuring that access to professional hearing care is a correct, including diagnosis, rehabilitation, service and maintenance.
2. To support member states in coordinating health policies and promoting healthy ageing.
3. To develop a European strategy on hearing loss focusing on equality, prevention and rehabilitation to make everyday life easier for hard of hearing people and ensure that this strategy is led by the experts working in the field.
4. To launch programmes to increase awareness of hearing loss as a cause of social isolation, depression and deterioration of both mental and physical health for older people and, therefore, of the importance of hearing loss geriatric care.
5. To invest in research on hearing loss, its prevention, rehabilitation and to share relevant studies and statistics.
Members of the coalition
The members of the coalition are:
Health First Europe (HFE)
The European Federation of Hard of Hearing People (EFHOH)
The European Association of Hearing Aid Professionals (AEA)
AGE Platform Europe
The European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA)
The Ear Foundation
The International Federation of ORL Societies (IFOS)
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