A ReSound Linx2 Hearing Aid is displayed at the trade show. Photograph:( AFP )
WHO has called for immediate and extra investment in prevention and treatment. As per the proposed package of measures in WHO's report, it would cost $1.33 per person per year
While the world is currently fighting the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed millions of lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a warning about another possible danger in the near future.
A report by the WHO suggests that by 2050 one in four of the world's population will suffer from hearing problems.
The first-ever global report on hearing claims that causes of many of these problems, such as infections, diseases, birth defects, noise exposure and lifestyle choices can be prevented.
WHO has called for immediate and extra investment in prevention and treatment. As per the proposed package of measures in WHO's report, it would cost $1.33 per person per year.
"Failure to act will be costly in terms of the health and well-being of those affected, and the financial losses arising from their exclusion from communication, education and employment," the report said.
While right now there are one in five people who suffer from hearing problems, the number can increase to 2.5 billion soon, 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, which was previously 1.6 billion in 2019.
Out of these 2.5 billion, nearly 700 million people would be suffering from serious hearing problems by 2050. The 700 million people may even require major treatment for the hearing condition, which would be a major increase from 430 million people in 2019.
One of the major reason behind this alarming increase is demographic and population trends, the report explained.
This issue has also been increasing due to lack of access to care, especially in the low-income countries — as nearly 80 per cent of people live in these countries — as the majority of them are not getting the required help.
The lack of accurate information and an increasing stigma around ear diseases and loss of hearing also contributes to the increasing number of people who are suffering from hearing problems.
"Even among health-care providers, knowledge relevant to prevention, early identification and management of hearing loss and ear diseases is commonly lacking," the report said.
The package of measures proposed by the WHO include public health initiatives such as reduction of noise in public spaces and an increase in vaccinations for diseases that can lead to hearing loss. It also proposed systematic screening to identify the problem.
"An estimated one trillion US dollars is lost each year due to our collective failure to adequately address hearing loss," WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said. "While the financial burden is enormous, what cannot be quantified is the distress caused by the loss of communication, education and social interaction that accompanies unaddressed hearing loss."