Over 360 million people globally have disabling hearing loss: WHO

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Man having ear examined

More than 360 million people in the world have disabling hearing loss, according to new global estimates released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday.

The agency says that infections of the ear are the leading cause of the disability, especially in low and middle income countries.

WHO adds that infectious diseases such as, measles, mumps can lead to hearing loss.

Other common causes include exposure to excessive noise, injuries to the ear or head, ageing, genetic causes, problems during pregnancy and childbirth and the use of medications that can damage hearing.

Dr Shelly Chadha is with the WHO's Department of Prevention of Blindness and Deafness.

"The good news from our part is that nearly half of this hearing loss can be prevented and those who do develop hearing loss can be helped through timely and cost-effective interventions. Of the 360 million about 32 million are actually children who are below the age of fifteen and we see that hearing loss prevalence increases as we grow older and over the age of 65 nearly one in every three persons is affected by disabling hearing loss." (29")

WHO says that prevalence of hearing loss is highest in South Asia, Asia Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa.

International Ear Care Day is observed on 3 March each year to put a spotlight on the issue.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1'22"

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