World Hearing Day 2018 – Hear the Future!
Sound Connection | Issue 29 | March 2018
The World Health Organization (WHO) theme for World Hearing Day on 3 March 2018 was ‘Hear the Future: and plan for it’. Advocacy efforts focused on raising awareness of the cost of untreated hearing loss, as well as the benefits of better prevention of hearing loss and improved access to treatments.
Cochlear ‘Hearing Matters’ Awareness Campaign
Cochlear is supporting the WHO call to action to raise awareness about the importance of prevention treatments available for hearing loss. We developed a “Hearing Matters” awareness campaign to encourage everyone to look after their own hearing health and the hearing of loved ones.
State of Hearing Report
In addition, Cochlear commissioned a research study looking at behaviours and attitudes toward hearing health in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and UK. The State of Hearing Report highlights a significant apathy towards hearing among sections of the general public and draws attention to the fact that many people willingly expose themselves to unsafe levels of sound.
Example findings from the report include:
- 61% of Germans diagnosed with a hearing impairment do not treat it with a medical device
- 75% of Italian respondents said they listened to music on their mobile device ‘in the red’ (above the volume warning)
- 12% of UK respondents do not protect hearing in order to increase enjoyment of an activity such as a music festival
World Health Assembly Resolution for action on hearing loss
As the State of Hearing report results indicate, raising awareness and advocacy by the WHO and hearing health stakeholders around the world is needed. We are excited by the possibilities this year as the WHO begin implementation of the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution that was agreed to by 195 countries in May 2017.
The resolution provides a policy roadmap that can be used by individual countries and the global community to tackle the deep individual impacts of hearing loss and address avoidable costs to the economy and society.
The year ahead
No doubt this year will be an exciting one in the field of hearing implants and technology. A series of Lancet articles late last year is helping drive awareness of hearing loss as a global public health issue that must be addressed by policy makers. The WHO has a programme of work underway to implement the resolution of the WHA calling for action on hearing loss – including greater access to cochlear implants and hearing technology.
It will take advocacy from users and professional organisations to ensure the resolution is implemented. Improvements to national hearing health policies and funding for access to treatments, including cochlear implants, is vital if the lives of many people are to improve.