360 million people in the world live with hearing loss

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Photo: The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)/A. Smith

Countries are being asked to develop strategies to prevent and treat hearing loss.

The call has come from the  World Health Organization  on International Ear Care Day observed 3 March.

There are 360 million persons in the world with disabling hearing loss, according to the agency, that's around 5 per cent of the global population.

At least half of all cases of hearing loss are avoidable, said Dr Shelly Chadha of the WHO unit for the Prevention of Blindness and Deafness.

"The most common causes prevalent in the world today documented are ear infections. There are also other infections such as rubella, meningitis which lead to deafness. The noise which exists in the environment and also noise from occupation exposure is also a cause for hearing loss. Another cause which is not well documented but which we know is a very big problem is the hearing loss caused by use of auto-toxic medicines- certain medicines which have effect on the ear."

Low and middle income countries have a high prevalence of hearing loss, possibly because of the high numbers of ear infections in these countries as compared to the developed world.

Thirty per cent of people aged above the age of 65 are suffering with disabling hearing loss.

Derrick Mbatha, United Nations.

Duration: 1’34″

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