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Deafness and hearing impairment can cause poverty and place an economic burden on individuals and society
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International Day for Ear and Hearing 2013

A medical technician (standing) working on the ear of a man (seated)
Miss María Daniela Castellanos Barboza, a hearing aid technician (who also happens to be deaf), completing the process of obtaining the ear canal impression to produce the ear mould necessary to fit a hearing aid to a gentleman in Guayaramerin, Bolivia

3 March is International Day for Ear and Hearing 2013. New estimates from the WHO say that more than 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss. CBM joins in the global recognition of this day, which aims aims to raise awareness and promotes community-based activities for ear and hearing health.

Text by Dr Diego Santana-Hernández, Senior Advisor for Ear & Hearing Care, CBM, with collaboration with the CBM Advisory Working Group on Ear and Hearing Care.

CBM core values through Ear and Hearing Care

A man (Dr Santana) presenting on a podium, with screen and large banner 'CBM' behind him ©CBM
Dr Diego Santana-Hernández, Senior Advisor for Ear & Hearing Care, CBM, explaining CBM Strategy Ear and Hearing Care for 2011-2015 in El Salvador, May 2012
The theme this year, as promoted by WHO and other organisations, is “Healthy Hearing, Happy Life - Hearing Health Care for Ageing People”. It aims to address both the challenges encountered by people living with hearing loss to be able to fully enjoy all aspects of life, and the importance of functional hearing for meaningful communication in the later stages of life.

Globally, hearing loss is the most prevalent sensory disability and is increasing rapidly, especially in ageing people. Coinciding with this day, the WHO has published new estimated figures - more than 360 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss.

CBM is committed to improving the quality of life of people living with, or at risk of, hearing loss and ear diseases, by acting at all levels of intervention: prevention, early identification, early intervention, rehabilitation (or habilitation for the persons with congenital hearing disability) and inclusion.

CBM works through its partners in the field, through international alliances and through careful planning, fundraising and direction at headquarters, regional offices and member associations.  With such an array of possible interventions, the diversity amongst the actors involved and the sheer magnitude of the challenge we face, it is not difficult to understand that the task at hand is overwhelming in all possible senses. 

Why then, is CBM so committed to persevere in this quest for what is right?  The answer is found in the heart of CBM, and by that I mean its set of core values, which far from being an intangible entity, are a solid rock upon which CBM workers anchor themselves for safe footing.  In a day marked by the International Day for Ear and Hearing Care, please let me remind you why we do what we do, by summarising CBM core values.
  • In CBM we value all people as equals before God, but we do not force our beliefs on others.
  • CBM’s identity derives from its international roots and we use that internationalism to advocate for inclusion, speaking more than one common language.
  • CBM aims for professional quality in all it does, seeking to improve its performance, mentoring partners and learning from them, sharing information generously and investing in people.
  • CBM’s integrity moves us to being good stewards of the gifts received, to respect all regardless of rank, to contribute to the best of our abilities and to act on our promises.
  • CBM communicates honestly and respectfully to create an atmosphere where there is acceptance of, and commitment to, one another.
  • CBM works and advocates for the inclusion of persons with disability in society, practising and promoting their inclusion within CBM.
These values define CBM for what it is and are a reminder, to all of us, of why every effort is worthwhile, regardless of the area of work we are involved in.

Causes of deafness and hearing loss

The causes leading to deafness and hearing loss are many, including hereditary factors, congenital infections especially rubella and cytomegalovirus, birth problems such as low birth weight, prematurity and hypoxia, ageing (presbyacusis), excessive noise exposure, effects of ototoxic medications and chemicals, and infectious diseases (meningitis, measles, mumps, toxoplasmosis, typhoid¹, varicella (chicken pox), etc.). Chronic Otitis Media (long-lasting infections of the middle ear) is a cause of primary concern in middle and low income countries, and the commonest cause of mild to moderate hearing loss in children in these countries. Nutritional deficiencies such as lack of iodine in the diet cause hearing loss in some poorer parts of the world.

Why 3rd March?

A young girl being fitted with a hearing aid
The date 3 March is International Ear and Hearing Care day because the shape of the numbers '3.3' is representative of two ears.

It was proposed at the 1st International Conference on Prevention & Rehabilitation of Hearing Impairment, held in Beijing, China, in April 2007.

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