Health leaders throughout the world have made hearing an international priority at a meeting of the World Health Assembly in Geneva. Australia was among the many member nations that endorsed a strategy to tackle the massive social and economic costs of hearing loss and ear disorders.
360 million people live with disabling hearing loss including 32 million children. Hearing loss prevalence is increasing globally due to the growth in populations of older adults, one third of whom have hearing loss; the continued high prevalence of chronic ear diseases; and the increasing practice of listening at high volume to unsafe levels of sound for prolonged periods, putting the hearing of over one billion young people aged 12-35 years at risk.
In Australia, an estimated 3.5 million people – one in six of the population – live with hearing loss. Australia and other members of the World Health Organisation are urged to make a priority of integrating strategies for ear and hearing care within the framework of their primary health care systems.
People who have hearing loss can benefit greatly from timely and appropriate interventions. This includes the use of hearing devices, captioning and sign language, and other forms of educational and social support. Despite this, those in need are often unable to access such services.
Australia’s government is undertaking in inquiry into the Hearing Health and Wellbeing of Australians. We hope that the results of that inquiry will:
- Fund essential audiological services including counselling, therapy and environmental adjustments for all Australian who D/deaf or hard of hearing.
- Recognise audiologists as members of the primary healthcare team.
- Regulate audiology to ensure a separation of the profession from the hearing device industry, fostering healthy relationshis between the two but ensuring independent advice is available to all.