Global Hearing Health Care: New Perspectives
A recent paper by Wilson et al (2017) addressed the growing global burden of disease (GBD), which indicates an increasing—and now alarmingly high—burden of hearing loss worldwide. According to the authors, hearing loss is the fourth leading contributor to years lived with disability (YLD) worldwide in 2015, up from the 11th-leading cause in 2010.
The authors point out that, although awareness of hearing loss and its causes is increasing worldwide, prevention and treatment are still not considered "urgent" in many nations, especially those with low- and middle-income where resources are scarce. As an "invisible" disability, hearing loss is often ignored, despite increasing evidence of the huge economic and societal impact of the untreated hearing loss.
The authors considered numerous preventable factors related to the rising prevalence of hearing loss in low-income countries for pediatric and adult populations, and identified numerous strategies for developing low-cost solutions to reduce the burden of hearing loss, including alternative treatment strategies that are not ototoxic, use of telehealth and telemedicine, and international collaboration through agencies like the World Health Organization. The authors conclude that "...greater attention to hearing loss would be one of the least expensive and most effective ways to improve human health and happiness." We agree.
Wilson BS, Tucci DL, Merson MH, O’Donoghue GM. (2017) Global hearing health care: new findings and perspectives. The Lancet Commissions. July 10. www.thelancet.com.