Little is known about hearing loss

With a total population of 400 million and vastly varying health conditions across Latin America, it is hard to get a clear picture of the prevalence of hearing loss and its consequences in this part of the world.

Prevention and treatment of hearing loss is not a priority, reflecting an attitude partially dictated by difficult economic conditions in many of the countries involved.

The WHO estimates in its 2021 World Report on Hearing that in the WHO region of The Americas (North and South America) 217 million people have some degree of hearing loss and that 62.7 million or 6.2% have a moderate or higher grade of hearing loss. By 2050, 332 million people in the Americas will have some degree of hearing loss.

Latin American data

  • Fewer than 30% of Brazilian children with hearing loss are diagnosed by the age of two years.
  • Almost 1.5 million Chileans suffer from hearing disorders.
  • Only 29 percent of hearing impaired Chileans are employed.
  • In Costa Rica, three children in 1000 are born with hearing loss.

The conditions for carrying out comprehensive screening programmes in Latin America are difficult. Some regions are hard to reach, and the health system may be undeveloped.

Several countries are in the process of implementing various screening programmes, but the results have yet to be published in international medical journals.

Sources: Audiology, 2000; 39(5): 212-20

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