Hearing loss is the fourth highest cause of disability globally, with an estimated annual cost of over 750 billion dollars. These facts are well known and have contributed to growing global consciousness on the need for accessible hearing care in all regions of the world. Looking forward however, the demand for hearing care is likely to grow significantly in coming decades. This report highlights the potential escalation of hearing loss to the middle of the century, and focusses on the factors responsible for hearing loss and the means to address them.
WHO estimates in 2008 found that 360 million people worldwide live with disabling hearing loss, including 32 million children and 180 million older adults. The most recent estimations place this figure at over 466 million people with disabling hearing loss in 2018. The main areas of the world affected by disabling hearing loss are the South Asian, Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan African regions, with a prevalence rate almost four times that of the high income regions.
Measures to address these concerns deal with: prevention of infections in mothers and babies; chronic ear infections; noise exposure; and ototoxic hearing loss.
Public health aspects are highlighted.