Cochlear pledges support to WHO call to action

March 2017

Cochlear Limited (ASX: COH), the global leader in implantable hearing solutions, together with other members of the hearing awareness community today announced its public health pledge to support new action outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO) to address the increasing burden of hearing loss around the world.

Joining with advocacy organisations, professional and aid organisations, Cochlear is supporting the call for action on hearing loss following the release of new figures finding unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy a staggering $750 billion dollars annually.1,2

Dr Rich Toselli, Chief Medical Officer at Cochlear, welcomed the WHO ‘Make a Sound Investment’ campaign and encouraged people to get behind a public health response to hearing loss by adopting the WHO goals.

“The cost of addressing hearing loss is far less than the cost of not responding to the problem,” said Dr Toselli. “These new figures from the WHO illustrate the significant economic and health impacts of hearing loss and the benefits to individuals and societies when prevention of hearing health is the focus and interventions are accessible to all patients who need them.”

The WHO report warned that inaction on hearing loss comes at a high annual cost:1-2

  • $105 billion – the cost of loss of productivity due to unemployment and premature retirement
  • $573 billion – the societal cost as a result of isolation, communication difficulties and stigma
  • $3.9 billion – the cost of additional educational support to children with hearing loss aged 5 -14 years

In addition, the WHO called for a number of cost-effective actions as a critical step for addressing the impact of global hearing loss, including: 1

  • Preventing hearing loss by protecting against loud sounds and identifying and treating ear infections
  • Identifying hearing loss early through screening of newborns, school children and adults over 50 years
  • Providing rehabilitation together with support for continuous use of hearing aids
  • Improving access to cochlear implants

Hearing loss is a major public health issue and its impact is set to increase. According to the WHO, there are 360 million people living with disabling hearing loss worldwide3 and this figure is set to increase significantly to 1.2 billion by 2050.4

In adulthood hearing loss is associated with greater unemployment, increased risk of poor health, depression and increased risk of other conditions including dementia.5 Increasingly evidence is showing cochlear implantation for adults as an effective intervention for a much wider group of candidates than had previously been thought.5

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References

  1. World Health Organization. Action For Hearing Loss: Make a Sound Investment (brochure). March 2017. Available at www.who.int/pbd/deafness/world-hearing-day/2017/en/
  2. World Health Organization. WHO estimates 2016 (cost in international dollars). Available at www.who.int/pbd/deafness/world-hearing-day/2017/en/
  3. World Health Organization. Factsheet No*300 [Internet]. 2016 [cited 30 August 2016]. Available from: www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs300/en/
  4. Lin F, Kramer S. Hearing well to train your brain. Milan: Amplifon Centre for Research and Studies; c2014 [cited 2017 Feb 24]. Available from: www.crsamplifon.com/documents/
  5. Lamb B, Archbold S. Adult Cochlear Implantation: Evidence and experience, The Case for a Review of Provision. Nottingham: The Ear Foundation; [cited 2017 Feb 24]. Available from: www.earfoundation.org.uk
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