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March 3, 2021

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Hearing to be problem for 1 in 4 by 2050: WHO

One in four of the world’s population will suffer from hearing problems by 2050, the World Health Organization warned yesterday, calling for attention to prevention and treatment.

The first-ever global report on hearing said that the causes of many of the problems, such as infections, diseases, birth defects, noise exposure and lifestyle choices, could be prevented.

One in five people worldwide have hearing problems currently, it said. But the report warned: “The number of people with hearing loss may increase more than 1.5-fold during the next three decades” to 2.5 billion people, up from 1.6 billion in 2019.

Of the 2.5 billion, 700 million would in 2050 have a serious enough condition to require some kind of treatment, it added, up from 430 million in 2019.

Much of the expected rise is due to demographic and population trends.

A major contributor to hearing problems is a lack of access to care, which is particularly striking in low-income countries where there are far fewer professionals available to treat them.

And a lack of accurate information and the stigma surrounding ear disease and hearing loss also prevents people getting the care they need.

“Even among health-care providers, knowledge relevant to prevention, early identification and management of hearing loss and ear diseases is commonly lacking,” the report noted.

It proposed some measures, including public health initiatives from reducing noise in public spaces to increasing vaccinations for diseases such as meningitis that can cause hearing loss.

The report also recommended systematic screening to identify the problem at key points in people’s lives.


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