By M Ahmad
WORLD Hearing Day is held on 3rd March each year to raise awareness on how to prevent deafness and hearing loss and promote ear and hearing care across the world. The first event was held in 2007. Before 2016 it was known as International Ear Care Day. According to the World Federation of the Deaf, there are more than 70 million deaf people worldwide. Over 5% of the world's population – 360 million people – has disabling hearing loss (328 million adults and 32 million children). Russia tops the list of countries with the highest rate of hearing loss. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over 5% of the world’s population suffers from disabling hearing loss. Five percent may seem like a small number, but that totals over 360 million people across the globe. The National Association of the Deaf (affiliated with the World Federation of the Deaf) puts the number of Indians affected with hearing loss at 18 million.
On World Hearing Day 2022, focus is laid on the importance of safe listening as a means of maintaining good hearing across the life course. In 2021, WHO launched the World report on hearing that highlighted the increasing number of people living with and at risk of hearing loss. It highlighted noise control as one of the seven key H.E.A.R.I.N.G. interventions and stressed the importance of mitigating exposure to loud sounds. World Hearing Day promotes ear and hearing care across the world and raises awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss.
A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing – hearing thresholds of 20 dB or better in both ears – is said to have hearing loss. Hearing loss may be mild, moderate, severe, or profound. It can affect one ear or both ears, and leads to difficulty in hearing conversational speech or loud sounds. It is possible to have good hearing across the life course through ear and hearing care. Many common causes of hearing loss can be prevented, including hearing loss caused by exposure to loud sounds. ‘Safe listening’ can mitigate the risk of hearing loss associated with recreational sound exposure. Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be avoided through preventative actions such as: protection against loud sounds; good ear care practices and immunization. Hearing loss (and related ear diseases) can be addressed when it is identified in a timely manner and appropriate care sought. People at risk of hearing loss should check their hearing regularly. People having hearing loss (or related ear diseases) should seek care from a health care provider.
'Hard of hearing' refers to people with hearing loss ranging from mild to severe. People who are hard of hearing usually communicate through spoken language and can benefit from hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other assistive devices as well as captioning. 'Deaf' people mostly have profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing. They often use sign language for communication.
The very first World Report on Hearing was released in 2021 to commemorate World Hearing Day. WHO hopes to reach out to national governments, global N.G.O.s, and development organizations, along with players in the hearing care sector, to raise awareness and organize action through the global release of the report. The World Report on Hearing and World Hearing Day presents a global call to action to alleviate hearing loss and ear illnesses.
We believe this is the perfect opportunity to highlight our shared responsibility to educate young people about noise-induced hearing loss in order to help prevent it. We know that young people may not be aware of the risk of spending too much time around loud noises — so this World Hearing Day, we ask that you join us in our efforts to spread the word.
- The author is Incharge Abhedananda Home-Higher Secondary Institution for Specially-abled Children, Solina, Srinagar
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