WHO: One in four people may suffer from hearing problems by 2050

MUMBAI, India (CU)_The World Health Organization had cautioned that by 2050, one in every four people on the planet will have hearing difficulties, which is calling for greater investment in prevention and care. According to the first-ever global study on hearing, the causes of most of the issues such as infections, disorders, birth defects, noise pollution, and lifestyle choices can be avoided. The study recommended a package of initiatives that would cost $1.33 per person per year.

In response, it reported that nearly a trillion US dollars are being wasted each year as a result of the inability to properly address the issue. The report stated: “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.” According to the study, one out of every five people in the world suffers from hearing issues. However, the study cautioned that the number of people with hearing loss could increase to more than 1.5-fold to 2.5 billion in the next three decades, which is up from 1.6 billion in 2019. It added that 700 million of the 2.5 billion population in 2050 will have a severe illness which requires treatment, which is up from 430 million in 2019.

According to the study, demographic and population patterns account for a significant portion of the projected increase. Lack of access to treatment is a major reason behind hearing disorders, which is particularly evident in low-income countries where there are not enough clinicians to treat them. The reason that nearly 80% of people with hearing loss belong to those countries, is because the majority do not receive the assistance they need. According to the report, access to treatment is also unequal even in wealthier countries with better healthcare facilities.

The study recommended a package of initiatives, ranging from noise reduction in public areas to increased vaccinations for diseases that can cause hearing loss, such as meningitis. The report says that hearing loss in children could be avoided in 60% of cases. WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “An estimated one trillion US dollars is lost each year due to our collective failure to adequately address hearing loss. 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.”

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