03 March 2021
World Hearing Day 2021 – Time to act on hearing loss
Today is World Hearing Day, and the WHO has published its first-ever World Report on Hearing (WRH). This landmark report is a significant event for everyone engaged in hearing care worldwide and at home.
WRH highlights that more than 1.5 billion people have a hearing loss worldwide and most people still lack timely access to vital ear and hearing health services. The report also rightly points out that “the cost of doing nothing is one we cannot afford”; that is why it is now time to act on hearing loss.
As a sector, we have long known that unsupported hearing loss has major and avoidable impacts on the lives of millions of people and society and the economy in the UK.
In recent years, through our work on the Action Plan on Hearing Loss made great progress in raising awareness of hearing loss impacts in the UK. We have also co-produced a national commissioning framework and joint strategic needs assessment, which help decision-makers understand and meet hearing needs at a local level. This sustained pan-sector effort means that today, public health experts, the NHS and NICE recognise unaddressed hearing loss as a major and growing public health challenge in the UK.
With the right foundations and tools for progress in place, the UK has much to be proud of on World Hearing Day 2021. However, our work has only just started. The call to action on World Hearing Day is clear – as a nation, we must move faster and do more to increase coverage and access to ear and hearing care.
- “As a nation, we must move faster and do more to increase coverage and access to ear and hearing care.”
The WRH calls on us all to do more to make hearing care more accessible as part of primary and community care, with efficient referral pathways for those who need medical and surgical interventions. In the UK, we agreed on this over 30 years ago, with the RNID’s ground-breaking Hearing Aids the Case for Change, but we still have a long way to go to achieve that vision.
So, while we have done much to raise awareness of hearing loss, we are acutely aware that progress in service innovation has been painfully slow. We must now double our efforts to open up access for everybody with ear and hearing health concerns.
At the NCHA, we are pleased to reaffirm our commitment on World Hearing Day to do even more to tackle the public health challenges that ear and hearing health present. We will continue to promote innovative models of care and improve access to vital ear and hearing care. We will act on hearing loss. We call on the whole sector through the Hearing Loss and Deafness Alliance to join us in this.