To address the growing prevalence of hearing loss, the WHO has identified a series of key evidence-based ear and hearing care interventions to be included within countries’ universal health coverage packages.
To assess the cost-effectiveness of these interventions and their budgetary effect for countries, a study has analysed the investment required to scale up services from baseline to the recommended levels and the return to society for every US$1 invested in the interventions.
$3.3 trillion in return
The study found that scaling up ear and hearing care interventions to 90% requires an overall global investment of US$238.8 billion over 10 years. Over a 10-year period, this investment promises substantial health gains with more than 130 million DALYs (Disability-Adjusted Life Years) averted.
Read more about Disability-Adjusted Life Years (external link)
These gains translate to a monetary value of more than US$1.3 trillion. In addition, investment in hearing care will result in productivity benefits of more than US$2 trillion at the global level by 2030. In total, the gains are US$3.3 trillion. Together, these benefits correspond to a return of nearly US$15 for every US$1 invested.
The WHO interventions
The proposed set of WHO interventions are:
- Hearing screening and intervention for new-born babies and infants, pre-school and school-age children, older adults and adults at higher risk of hearing loss
- Ear disease prevention and management
- Access to technologies such as hearing aids, cochlear implants or hearing assistive technologies
- Rehabilitation service provision
The study, "Global return on investment and cost-effectiveness of WHO’s HEAR interventions for hearing loss: a modelling study", was published in the Lancet.
You can find the study here.
You can read more about the WHO’s proposed intervention in the WHO’s World Report on Hearing.
Sources: The Lancet and www.sciencedirect.com