The British and Irish Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (BIHIMA) welcomes a new resolution on the prevention of deafness and hearing loss recently passed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) – a much needed acknowledgement of the 360 million people across the world living with disabling hearing loss and the fact that unaddressed hearing loss has an annual global cost of $750 billion annually.

On 30 May, the World Health Assembly in Geneva agreed to intensify global action, calling on governments to implement a range of measures: “to integrate strategies for ear and hearing care within their primary health care systems; to establish training programmes for health workers; to implement prevention and screening programmes for high-risk populations; to make high-quality, affordable hearing devices accessible to all who need them; and to implement regulations for the control of noise in various settings.”

BIHIMA is encouraged by the WHO’s acknowledgement that most cases of hearing loss can be avoided and that a preventative approach is imperative. We welcome this focus on proactive measures such as reducing exposure to loud sounds (the increasing practice of listening at high volume for prolonged periods which puts the hearing of over one billion young people at risk), as well as the WHO’s call for preventative screening programmes.

This approach chimes with BIHIMA’s ongoing lobby for a “new normal” societal attitude to hearing care, encouraging people in the UK to treat their ears with the same regular care as their eyes and teeth, as well as our call for a national screening programme for the over 65s.

We also welcome the WHO’s emphasis on the fact that most hearing loss can be successfully managed through cost-effective interventions, including the use of hearing aids, cochlear implants and other assistive devices which are developed by our members.

The WHO resolution can be read in full here: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB139/B139_R1-en.pdf?ua=1