Each year 3 March is celebrated as World Hearing Day- an annual global advocacy event for raising awareness regarding hearing loss and promoting ear and hearing care, and calling for action to address hearing loss and related issues.
A person is said to have hearing loss if they are not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing, meaning hearing thresholds of 20 dB or better in both ears. It can be mild, moderate, moderately severe, severe or profound, and can affect one or both ears. Major causes of hearing loss include congenital or early onset childhood hearing loss, chronic middle ear infections, noise-induced hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, and ototoxic drugs that damage the inner ear.
The impacts of hearing loss are broad and can be profound. They include a loss of the ability to communicate with others delayed language development in children, which can lead to social isolation, loneliness and frustration, particularly among older people with hearing loss.
Many areas lack sufficient accommodations for hearing loss, which effect academic performance and options for employment. Children with hearing loss and deafness in developing countries rarely receive any schooling.
WHO estimates that unaddressed hearing loss costs the global economy US$ 980 billion annually due to health sector costs (excluding the cost of hearing devices), costs of educational support, loss of productivity and societal costs.
On this day, WHO will launch a new training manual – Primary ear and hearing care training manual. The manual will be accompanied with trainer’s handbook and other community resources.
Ear and hearing problems are among the most common problems encountered in the community.
Over 60% of these can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care.
Integration of ear and hearing care into primary care services is possible through training and capacity building at this level.
Such integration will benefit people and help countries move towards the goal of universal health coverage.
Deafness and hearing loss are widespread and found in every region and country. Currently more than 1.5 billion people (nearly 20% of the global population) live with hearing loss. 430 million of them have disabling hearing loss. It is expected that by 2050, there could be over 700 million people with disabling hearing loss.
Globally, 34 million children have deafness or hearing loss, of which 60% of cases are due to preventable causes. At the other end of the lifespan, approximately 30% of people over 60 years of age have hearing loss.
Many of the impacts of hearing loss can be mitigated through early detection and interventions. These include specialized education programs and sign language instruction for young children and their families. Assistive technologies, including hearing aids, cochlear implants, closed captioning and other devices can help people with hearing loss at any age. People may also benefit from speech therapy, aural rehabilitation and other related services.
Low- and middle-income countries bear a disproportionate burden from hearing loss. WHO estimates that global hearing aid production covers just 3% of the need in these countries.
WHO estimates that 50% of hearing loss can be prevented through public health measures. Some prevention strategies target individual lifestyle choices such as exposure to loud sounds and music or wearing protective equipment such as earplugs. This can be assisted through implementing audio standards for personal audio systems and devices.
Immunizing adolescent girls and women of reproductive age against rubella before pregnancy, and preventing cytomegalovirus infections in pregnant women, can reduce the risk of babies born with congenital hearing loss or deafness.
Link to WHO World Hearing Day 2023 page:
Link to WHO Tips for healthy ears:
Link to Primary Ear and Hearing Care Training Manual (available from 2 March 2023 onwards):
Link to World Report on Hearing 2022 (with PDF preview):
Link to WHO Questions and Answers page on Deafness and Hearing Loss:
Link to WHO fact sheet on Deafness and Hearing Loss: