Health

Unveiling the Truth About Hearing Investments: Seizing Better Opportunities

“Only one out of five people are actually accessing hearing rehabilitation of those who need it,” said Dr. Shelly Chadha, in charge of WHO’s work on prevention of deafness and hearing loss, speaking to journalists in Geneva on Friday.

Ahead of World Hearing Day, marked on 3 March, she recalled that the global health agency has repeatedly drawn attention to this constantly growing problem over the last few years.

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There are “several barriers” that contribute to the problem, Dr. Chadha explained, the most significant of which is the global shortage of hearing care specialists. New guidelines by WHO are bound to help overcome those hurdles.

A world that hears less

According to recent data, by 2050, nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss, and at least 700 million will require hearing rehabilitation. In addition, over one billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss caused by unsafe listening practices.

To address the problem, WHO is rethinking the ways hearing aid services are provided, especially in places where resources, especially human resources, are limited.

The underlying principle of the new approach is task sharing amongst highly trained specialists and trained non-specialists, WHO expert explained.

“Some of the tasks that traditionally fall under the realm of highly educated and trained specialists like audiologists can actually be done by non-specialists with some training,” Dr. Chadha said, expressing hope that this will help provide more hearing aid services to people in low- and middle-income countries.

Invest in hearing 

WHO estimates that unaddressed hearing issues incur an annual fiscal loss of nearly $1 trillion globally. However, less than $ 1.40 of additional investment of per person per year is needed to scale up ear and hearing care services. Over a 10-year period, this promises a return of nearly $16 for every dollar invested. 

However, human resource shortages along with the lack of policies or insufficient financing are just one side of the challenge. 

Busting myths and prejudices 

Even in places where testing, hearing aids and rehabilitation are available through the health system and are free, people do not always access these services, the study shows.

“As much as the health system challenges, it is the deeply ingrained societal misperceptions and stigmatizing mindsets that are key factors which limit our efforts for preventing and addressing hearing loss,” Dr. Chadha elaborated.  

Myths that only older people get hearing loss or the idea that hearing aids are always very expensive or inefficient cause harm, not only to the people whose lives could be otherwise much better, but also negatively impact the economy. 

Every year, WHO uses World Hearing Day to raise awareness of the problem, break the stereotypes and misperceptions thus helping more people to get life-improving assistance. 

 

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14 Comments

  1. “It’s alarming that only one out of five people who need hearing rehabilitation are actually accessing it. Dr. Chadha’s insights shed light on the significant barriers, including the global shortage of hearing care specialists. The new WHO guidelines will be crucial in overcoming these challenges and improving access to hearing services worldwide.”

  2. Can you provide more details on the specific barriers mentioned by Dr. Chadha and how the new guidelines by WHO will address them? I’m interested in learning more about the initiatives to overcome the shortage of hearing care specialists.

    1. Of course, EmilyJohnson! Dr. Chadha highlighted the global shortage of hearing care specialists as the primary barrier to accessing hearing rehabilitation. The new guidelines by WHO aim to address this issue by promoting task sharing among both highly trained specialists and trained non-specialists. This approach will help expand access to hearing aid services, especially in regions with limited resources. By rethinking how these services are provided, WHO is working towards ensuring more individuals receive the necessary hearing rehabilitation they need.

  3. Could you provide more insights on the specific barriers mentioned by Dr. Shelly Chadha in the article regarding hearing rehabilitation?

    1. Sure thing, Emma. Dr. Chadha highlighted that the global shortage of hearing care specialists is a major barrier to hearing rehabilitation. The new WHO guidelines aim to address this issue by promoting task sharing between highly trained specialists and non-specialists. By rethinking how hearing aid services are provided, especially in resource-limited areas, WHO hopes to overcome these challenges.

  4. As a healthcare professional, I fully agree with Dr. Chadha’s statement. It is alarming that only one out of five people in need of hearing rehabilitation are actually receiving it. The global shortage of hearing care specialists is a significant barrier that needs to be addressed urgently. I believe that the new guidelines introduced by WHO will play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges and ensuring more people have access to the hearing healthcare they need.

  5. In my opinion, it is crucial to tackle the shortage of hearing care specialists globally to ensure that more people in need can access proper hearing rehabilitation services. The new guidelines by WHO are a step in the right direction towards overcoming this challenge and providing better opportunities for those with hearing loss.

  6. I totally agree with Dr. Chadha’s point about the global shortage of hearing care specialists being a significant barrier to accessing hearing rehabilitation. It is crucial to address this issue to ensure that millions of people in need can receive the necessary assistance. The new guidelines by WHO seem promising in overcoming these hurdles.

  7. Are there any specific regions or countries where the shortage of hearing care specialists is more severe? How is the WHO planning to address this issue on a global scale?

    1. Hi Emily1978, the shortage of hearing care specialists is particularly severe in low-resource settings and underserved communities where access to healthcare services is limited. WHO is proposing a new approach of task sharing between highly trained specialists and non-specialists to address this issue globally. By empowering a broader range of healthcare providers to deliver hearing aid services, WHO aims to improve access to hearing rehabilitation for those in need, regardless of the region or country.

  8. It’s concerning to learn that only one out of five people who need hearing rehabilitation actually access it. The shortage of hearing care specialists globally is a significant barrier. I believe the new guidelines from WHO will play a crucial role in overcoming these challenges and helping more individuals in need. It’s imperative that we address this issue as the number of people with hearing loss is projected to increase significantly by 2050. Task sharing amongst specialists and non-specialists can definitely make a difference in providing better hearing aid services in resource-constrained areas.

  9. It’s truly concerning that only one out of five people who need hearing rehabilitation are accessing it. Dr. Chadha’s insights shed light on the global shortage of hearing care specialists, and the new guidelines by WHO offer hope in overcoming these barriers. The projected rise in hearing loss cases by 2050 highlights the urgency of rethinking how hearing aid services are provided to reach those in need, especially in resource-limited settings.

  10. How can task sharing among specialists and non-specialists effectively tackle the global shortage of hearing care specialists?

    1. Task sharing among specialists and non-specialists can be an effective strategy in addressing the global shortage of hearing care specialists. By redistributing tasks to include trained non-specialists, such as specific hearing screening or basic counseling, the burden on specialists is reduced, allowing them to focus on more complex cases and training. This approach maximizes the available resources and expertise, ultimately improving access to hearing rehabilitation services worldwide.

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