The WHO has published the first World Report on Hearing.
2.5 billion with hearing loss in 2050
In the report, the WHO estimates that by 2050, nearly 2.5 billion people will be living with some degree of hearing loss and that at least 700 million of these will require rehabilitation services. This means that 1 in 4 people is projected to have hearing problems by 2050.
Today, 1.5 billion live with some degree of hearing loss.
The number of people living with some degree of hearing loss globally and in the WHO-regions are:
Today: 1.5 billion
By 2050: 2.5 billion
Today: 136 million
By 2050: 337 million
Today: 217 million
By 2050: 332 million
Eastern Mediterranean Region
Today: 78 million
By 2050: 194 million
Today: 196 million
2050: 236 million
South-East Asia Region
Today: 401 million
2050: 666 million
Western Pacific Region
Today: 546 million
2050: 776 million
Failure to act on this will be costly in terms of the health and well-being of those affected and the financial losses arising from their exclusion from communication, education and employment, the WHO writes.
According to the report, many cases of hearing loss can be prevented through effective and available measures. More than 1 billion young people are at risk of avoidable hearing loss and around 200 million are suffering from preventable or treatable chronic ear infections. Both give cause for urgent action.
More people need to be treated
The WHO writes in their report that innovative, cost–effective technological and clinical solutions can improve the lives of most individuals with hearing loss. Millions are already benefitting from these developments. Combining the power of technology with sound public health strategies can ensure that these benefits reach all, especially those in underserved and remote areas of the world.
1 trillion dollars are lost each year
The report states that at the current rate of prevalence, nearly 1 trillion International dollars are lost annually from unaddressed hearing loss. Unless action is taken, this figure will continue to rise in the coming decades.
The WHO recommends making ear and hearing care accessible to all and includes ear and hearing care services in national health plans to reduce the number of people who live with an unaddressed hearing loss. This will not only help those living with a hearing loss but also reduce the societal costs of not treating hearing loss.
According to the WHO, investments in ear and hearing care have been shown to be cost–effective and governments can expect a return of nearly 16 International dollars for every 1 dollar invested.
In the report, the WHO also writes that the lockdowns around the world precipitated by COVID-19 have highlighted the importance of hearing and the need for ear and hearing care. When deprived of visual and social contact, the sense of hearing allows us to remain connected.
The report can be downloaded here at the WHO website.