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There are an estimated 2 million children in low income countries with severe or moderate physical disability. Many of these children have preventable or treatable conditions but due to a lack of facilities and trained staff and various barriers in society, they are unable to access the services they require.
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World Health Day 2012 - Ageing and health

A echnician performing a hearing test on an older lady, Bolivia
Mrs Cintia Churco (left, Head Nurse who was trained by CBM partner organisation Fundacion Totai) performing a hearing test (Pure Tone Audiometry) on Mrs Arias (83). This was done in 2009 during the first Population Based Study that was carried out in Bolivia (in Beni State) to determine the prevalence of Hearing Impairment and Ear conditions.

7 April is World Health Day. In 2012 the topic is 'Ageing and health' and the theme is 'Good health adds life to years'.

This year, CBM commemorates this day by focusing on hearing loss, looking specifically at causes, effects and management, and how how the organisation works - with partners - to improve this situation in developing countries.

Healthy ageing and hearing

We aspire to live a long and healthy life in the company of dear friends, however, age inevitably leads to deterioration of hearing ability, a condition known as presbycusis[1].  The World Report on Disability, 2011, estimates that there are 62 million persons over 60 years of age suffering with hearing loss, most of them living in developing countries[2] but this is a reality which affects the whole world. Hearing impairment is the most common chronic disability in the United States and the elderly are the largest group suffering from it.[3]
Hearing loss affects communication and can contribute to social isolation, loss of autonomy and can be associated with anxiety, depression and cognitive decline.[4] This physical and social impediment is often not recognised by persons with normal hearing, causing the mature adults with hearing loss to withdraw, evading contact with others in order to avoid being labelled as 'slow' or 'mentally inadequate'.[5]
Presbycusis can be managed effectively and become an important contributor to improving quality of life.  Management can include education about successful communication, hearing aids, assistive listening devices and cochlear implants[1], as well as simple communication tips such as clear and good enunciation of words when speaking to a person with hearing loss[5].
Unmet needs:  It is estimated that current hearing aid production meets only 10% of the global demand (56 million hearing aids per year) and only 3% of the need in developing countries.[2] The expensive price of the devices and batteries, as well as the stigma attached with hearing loss and the use of hearing aids, are the main barriers to their effective use.[6]
CBM has a Strategic Plan for Ear and Hearing Care in developing countries, which includes specific work towards raising awareness about the importance of ear care and the knowledge of how to deal with a hearing loss and offer suitable rehabilitation services.
Together we can do more:  We can all contribute to raising awareness about hearing loss and how individuals manage their hearing loss, by sharing our knowledge on the subject. We must take the first step to communicate with and understand, the persons living with hearing loss around us.

[1] Gates GA, Mills JH. Presbycusis.Lancet 2005; 366: 1111-20.
[3] Thobaben M, Helping clients with presbycusis. Home Care Provider 1998: Vol 3(4): 186-188.
[4] Parham K, McKinnon BJ, Eibling D, Gates GA. Challenges and opportunities in presbycusis. Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery 2011; 144(4): 491-495.
[5] Kearns JR. Presbycusis. Can Fam Physician 1977; 1086: 96-101.
[6] Hearing Aids Services: Needs and Technology Assessment for Developing Countries: report of a WHO/CBM workshop; WHO 1999.

Links to WHO website

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CBM helped the WHO launch WWHearing, with the aim of promoting the provision of affordable hearing aids and appropriate services


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