World Hearing Day 2019: “Check Your Hearing”

This year’s World Hearing Day’s theme, “Check Your Hearing”, resonates very well with CBM’s work in the field of Ear and Hearing Care (EHC). The theme draws attention to the importance of early identification and intervention for hearing loss. Many people live with unidentified hearing loss, often failing to realize that they are missing out on certain sounds and words. Checking one’s hearing would be the first step towards addressing the issue. For this to happen, Ear and Hearing Care (EHC) services for early identification and intervention should be made available and easily accessible through the health system. National plans for EHC and incorporating services in the national and local healthcare programmes are crucial to achieve this.

Since the passing of the WHA resolution 70.13 in 2017, activities in EHC across the world have increased. The resolution provides both advocates for EHC and healthcare workers with a framework to engage with policy makers on local as well as on national level. 

The seventieth world health assembly urges Member States to integrate strategies for ear and hearing care within the framework of member states’ primary health care systems, under the umbrella of universal health coverage, by such means as raising awareness at all levels and building political commitment and intersectoral collaboration.
WHA resolution 70.13

One excellent example is the regional forum for ear and hearing care in the East and Central African region. This forum has been at the forefront of advocacy for EHC, pushing all countries in the region to develop national plans for EHC by the end of this year. The forum has created a platform for EHC champions in the region to work together not only in developing national EHC plans, but also in sharing best practices of local EHC programmes. In addition, the forum has facilitated mapping of training resources available in the region so that training opportunities are opened up to the healthcare workers in the region. These activities will improve access to EHC in East and Central Africa, so that the objectives of early detection and management of hearing impairment can be achieved.

When promoting early detection of hearing loss, it is important that the infrastructure can meet the increasing demand for interventions. The provision of affordable hearing aids and the creation of facilities for hearing rehabilitation are crucial to prevent disillusionment among both patients and health workers. Innovative delivery models for hearing aids must be developed, including bulk buying at country level to benefit from economies of scale. In addition, all health care workers should be trained to fit hearing aids in view of the biting shortage of audiologists in many low and middle-income countries. In many of these countries, nurses and clinical assistants already offer limited EHC services in the health facilities. Training these health care workers is a cost-effective way to offer a wider variety of qualified EHC services.

World Hearing Day 2019 visit to Cuba partners

Cuban MOH personnel of the national hearing programme, CBM partner CIC, and CBM visiting team (CBM-D, LARO and IO).

CBM-Germany, CBM-LARO and CBM-IO collaboration at the World Hearing Day 2019. Visit to Cuba partners: the “Consejo de Iglesias de Cuba” (CIC) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).  

World Hearing Day 2019 Campaign in Cuba

Dr Sandra Bermejo, Director of the National Hearing Programme of the Ministry of Public Health of Cuba and Diego Santana-Hernández Global Advisor Ear and Hearing Care, Technical Unit CBM IO.